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The Dude of Life & Andy Greenberg Discuss Space Armadillo June 2, 2021 10:41

Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

Here's a brand new project that I cannot wait to watch unfold. I recently learned that longtime Phish lyricist / guitarist Steve Pollak (aka "The Dude of Life") was joining forces with Runaway Gin frontman Andy Greenberg. After digging a little further, I learned that Pollak and Greenberg had called on members of Doom Flamingo to help round out the new band known as Space Armadillo.

As a longtime Phish fan, I've always admired Pollak's lyrical contributions on songs such as "Fluffhead," "Suzy Greenberg," "Run Like an Antelope," "Dinner & A Movie," and "Slave to the Traffic Light." In addition, I've really enjoyed watching Andy's musical career blossom through Phish tribute Runaway Gin over the past decade. 

About two weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to hop on a phone call with Steve and Andy to get the full scoop on the new band. You can catch their world premiere at The Charleston Pour House on Saturday, June 12th, and you can read the full transcript of our conversation below. 

Andy / Steve: It's a pleasure speaking with you guys today. Let's jump right into it. Space Armadillo. I'd love to hear how this project came to life.

Andy: Steve...you want to take this one?
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Steve: Andy and I have been friends on Phish tour for years. We're always meeting in different parts of the country and having a great time. More recently, we decided to make some music together and see what happens. It's pretty exciting.
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Right on. So, this is brand new project for you guys. It will also feature Stu (White) and Ross (Bogan) from Doom Flamingo. Who's going to be playing bass?
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Andy: This is going to be Steve's buddy, Charlie, and you guys have been playing together for a long time, yeah?
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Steve: Charlie is my partner in crime, musically. We've been playing together for over 11 years. His full name is Charles de Saint Phalle.
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You guys obviously have a long history of playing music with different projects over the years. I'm sure it's exciting to start fresh with something brand new. How long has Space Armadillo been in the works? Will you be playing new original material?
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Andy: I think Steve and I first started talking about this probably about a month ago. Right?
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Steve: About a month ago, yeah.
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Andy: Something like that. We were trying to figure out if it was something that we could make happen. Steve lives up in New York, and Charlie is up there as well. Ross, Stu, and I are down here in Charleston, so the big obstacle, initially, was can we get a date that will work for all of us. If we could do that, then we can make this thing go. We were looking at a few dates, and eventually, a date just clicked.
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It all came together. This was only about a week ago. Since then, we've been getting things rolling. Figuring out exactly what we want to do. We talked before about what type of music we wanted to play. Steve and I had a brainstorming session or two to conceptualize the whole thing. I think that once the gig came into fruition, we've just been getting more and more excited about doing it.
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I think the original idea was to take a lot of material from Steve's prolific catalog. He's written quite a bit over the years. Ross, Stu, and I are very interested in playing some of that material with Steve. I'm really excited about doing some collaborative stuff. I think we are all musically similar, but there are a lot of different things that we can bring to the table.
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Ross is a very synthy player, and then Stu is a super funky drummer. Steve is very influenced by The Dead with his original style of writing. I'm not as familiar with Charlie's background, but I know he's a super funky bass player. I think what we're gonna end up creating is something very, very original.
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It seems like everyone is leaning, at this point, to doing a lot of original material. I'm sure we're going to have some covers as well. I'm super excited about the originals, in particular, because I think it's going to be a very unique sound that doesn't really have a direct precedent.
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Love hearing all of this, Andy.
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Steve: The more that we've been thinking about it, the more excited I am about it. I think that the different styles of the musicians are going to parlay into an amazing chemistry. Something brand new. This is the kind of situation where it's fun because we're taking a musical risk, but I've found that the greatest victories often come from taking that risk. It's an exciting undertaking, for sure.
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I would imagine so. So Steve, I'm familiar with your work with Phish over the years. The first thing that came to mind when I heard "Space Armadillo" was your former band "Space Antelope."
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Steve: So, the original name of a band that Trey (Anastasio) had in boarding school was Space Antelope. We were students at The Taft School in Watertown, Connecticut. That's where I met Trey. We had this band called Space Antelope. We would play right after dinner. The boys were all dressed in coat and tie. The girls had their dresses on, and usually, there would be a school chaplain talking about rules or morals.
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One night, we came out and played. The student body was really thrilled to have something other than boring crap going on. We were very popular from the start, even though we weren't that talented. It went over really well. Then, about a week later, another group of kids in our grade who had zero musical talent, billed themselves as Space Armadillo. So when Andy and I were tossing around different band names, I thought, "How awesome would it be if we could turn Space Armadillo into a legendary rock band?"
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That would be truly incredible.
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Andy: (laughs) Steve told me this story, and we were going through a bunch of ideas for a band name. As soon as he told me the story, I was just like, "Yes...that's it." Space Armadillo...it's kind of like dogecoin. You know what I mean? Something that starts out almost like a joke or a spoof. We're making fun of this band that was making fun of their band, and now we're going to spin it into something legit, you know? Seems very apropos for the modern age.
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Steve: And then, after things start taking off, we're going to have armadillocoin instead of dogecoin. It's going to do amazingly well. I would invest right now in armadillocoin.
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Andy: I have tons already.
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You'll have to tell me how I can get in early on this.
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Andy: You can get it on Kucoin right now. It's 0.0000000 cents a coin right now(laughs).
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Well Steve, you and Trey played together in Space Antelope as teenagers. You went on to help write many of Phish's most popular songs. Tell me a little bit about the other musical projects you've been involved with over your career.
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Steve: After boarding school, Trey and I both went on to attend University of Vermont. That's where Phish got started. I was making quite a few appearances with them back in the early days. That was just an amazing period of time. From there, I don't even know where to begin. Somehow, that's been about 30 years. I've had many different bands over the years. I continue to work with Trey on Phish material, as well as Trey Anastasio Band material, as well. It's been an ongoing snowball effect. It keeps pickup up steam. Now, I'm busier and having more fun than ever. I'm riding that wave.
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That's so great to hear. I can only imagine what those early experiences were like as Phish was really taking off to that next level. It goes without saying that many of the songs you wrote have proven to be favorites for countless Phish fans over the years. So, thank you for all of your contributions. The Phish community is such a special thing to be a part of. It does not go unnoticed how much of an impact that you and Tom Marshall have had on all of it since day one.
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Steve: Thank you, brother. I appreciate that.
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Andy, you mentioned locking down a gig for Space Armadillo. What can people expect from the band now that things are official?
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Andy: Well, I think that initially, we're focusing on just this one show. We don't want to put the wagon in front of the horse, you know? I think that right now, from a conceptual standpoint, we're looking at music that is very danceable, but also has a hard edge to it. Really deep, existential lyrics, which Steve is obviously very well known for.
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Steve: Some of the lyrics might be deep and existential, and some of them might be shallow. So, it will be a combination of the deep with the shallow.
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Andy: It will be a very schizophrenic lyrical thing...
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Steve: I wouldn't say it's schizophrenic... (laughs)
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Andy: (laughs) Ok, sorry...bad word. It's going to be a very broad depth of lyrical content and themes. That wasn't really the question that you asked, but it's something that I've been thinking about a lot. In terms of what we're going to do with the project, we have a team of guys that we're going to be working with. We're really stoked about that. People that can help us develop the business side of the band. 
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We're super interested in playing festivals and additional shows. Each of us plays in multiple other projects, so we're not going to be dropping everything else, by any means. I think, with our other projects, we're going to find places where this will fit in. We'll be able to make magic happen on the road. I think we're about to start collaborating more on the songwriting side of things. 
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We should be laying down some actual tracks that people can hear. Those probably won't be available until a little ways after the gig, but once we get that whole thing rolling, I think this band will really have its own unique personality and flavor. If we're having a good time, I think we're all game to take it out whenever people want to go for a ride.
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Steve: And Jordan, just to piggyback on what Andy said...
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Andy: Armadilloback!
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Steve: (laughs) To armadilloback on what Andy said, (laughs) if you're looking to go out and have a great time, and you're ready to go out, dance your ass off, and have a lot of laughs, you're not going to be disappointed. We're planning on having a great time out there, while simultaneously, creating some great music. That's our goal.
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I can't think of a much better goal than that, man. Super exciting stuff all around. So, when is this big show announcement coming?
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Andy: We are going to announce tomorrow (May 20th) that we're playing our first show at The Charleston Pour House on Saturday, June 12th. We're all set up on Facebook and Instagram, so people can follow us there. We'll be working on an official website in the coming months, as well. We're going to have pre-sale codes so we can try and filter the tickets to our inner circle people. 
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We're playing the main stage, inside of the venue. The current capacity is only about 300. It's normally about 500. We want to make sure all of our closest people are able to get in there and attend the first show. It's gonna be fucking cool man. Once that drops, we'll just be digging into the music real hard.
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Steve: One more thing I want to add. This tour is being billed as "Space Armadillo: First World Tour," and it's one show in South Carolina. We are so economical that we don't have to tour to different states or countries. We're fitting an entire world tour into one single show. That's what's super exciting (laughs).
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Andy: (laughs) Each song is going to be a different country.
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Steve: Fasten your seatbelts!
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Absolutely. This has been an absolute pleasure, guys. As a longtime fan of both of yours, I can't tell you how excited I am to see this thing take off. I know there are many more people who will feel the same way after seeing this announcement.
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Steve: Thank you, Jordan!
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Andy: Thanks brother!
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10 Reasons Not To Miss Mempho Music Festival June 2, 2021 10:04

Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography

Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

It's hard to believe we're actually approaching a real festival season. The experience of living through a global pandemic can definitely put things into perspective. First and foremost, I am grateful to be alive. I'm also grateful for the health of my friends and family. There were certainly times when it felt like we would never get back to this point, yet here we are. 

As major national touring acts began confirming full capacity tours, the concept of going to a music festival began to feel like a real possibility. It didn't take long for Mempho Music Festival to confirm its return for a fourth year in Memphis, Tennessee. With artists such as Widespread Panic and The Avett Brothers headlining this year's festivities, it's safe to say that this may be Mempho's best year to date. 

As a method of burning the time and preparing for what's ahead, I put together a list of ten reasons why you just don't want to miss out on this festival. In addition, we will be giving away a pair of GA weekend passes to the festival in the weeks to come. If you'd like to enter the contest, simply head over to our Facebook and/or Instagram page for instructions on how to do so. 

Click Here: Purchase Tickets to Mempho Music Festival

1. Not one, but two nights of Widespread Panic. Need we say more?

  • Let's face it. This festival is in the heart of Panic country, and there is not a more prime candidate to headline multiple nights this year. The band's history in Memphis is well documented, and those who have attended any of Panic's past runs at Mud Island, Mid-South Coliseum, FedEx Forum, or even Beale Street Music Festival can attest to that. Something about performing in Tennessee always seems to bring out the best in the band, and if anyone understands the level of expectation for these four sets, it's these guys right here.

2. Billy Freakin' Strings: Is there a hotter artist on the planet right now?

  • Today's announcement confirmed the rumors that have been swirling over the past few months. Billy Strings is the latest addition to the lineup. While the majority of the music industry fell dormant over the past year, Billy Strings managed to take a meteoric rise in popularity. If you've had a chance to watch Billy and his band perform, it's really not surprising at all. Innovation is key with these guys, and what they've provided both musically and technologically has been nothing short of amazing. 
  • Could we see another collaboration between Billy and Widespread Panic? Time will tell whether the two will perform on the same night. We'll be keeping our fingers crossed for more of what was seen at the Ryman Auditorium in 2019. 

3. The Avett Brothers: Another phenomenal headliner.

  • How could we go any further without honing in on these guys? You'd be hard pressed to find anyone who has seen a less than stellar performance from The Avett Brothers. This band combines bluegrass, country, punk, pop melodies, folk, rock and roll, indie rock, honky tonk, and ragtime to produce a novel sound described by the San Francisco Chronicle as having the "heavy sadness of Townes Van Zandt, the light pop concision of Buddy Holly, the tuneful jangle of The Beatles, the raw energy of the Ramones." Their commercial success is well documented, and there's no doubt that they'll close out the weekend with some electric energy. 

4. This lineup offers a beautiful variety that any music fan can enjoy. 

  • It's a challenge to even begin keeping up with the amount of annual music festivals resurfacing this year. While many of the these lineups are designed to cater to a specific fan base, such as jam bands or bluegrass, Mempho steps outside the box. While there's certainly some jam over the weekend, major national acts such as Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Black PumasMoon TaxiAndy Frasco & The UN, & Christone "Kingfish" Ingram make for an immense amount of variety from top to bottom. 

5. Radians Amphitheater at Memphis Botanical Gardens: A truly beautiful venue. 

  • For over 20 years, the Memphis Botanic Garden has been host to world-class musicians and artistic performances through the Live at the Garden concert series, Summer Symphony, and Wolf at the Garden among many other events. Recently, the concert venue partnered with local company Radians, Inc., becoming the new Radians Amphitheater. The amphitheater, located in the heart of Memphis, has been voted Best Memphis Event and Best Place To See Live Music in Memphis by The Commercial Appeal and the Memphis Flyer and will now be the new home for Mempho Music Festival. 

    Memphis Botanic Garden features 30 specialty gardens over 96 acres in the heart of Memphis, Tennessee. It is also home to the W.C. Paul Arboretum which boasts more than 170 species of trees. Beyond being an urban oasis for the Mid-south, the Garden offers year-round educational programming for adults and youth, art exhibitions, and community events

6. This VIP experience will be tough to beat.

  • Did you know that Mempho is offering an exclusive VIP experience? Check out what this package includes here, and head over to the festival's official website for further details: Dedicated VIP entry, complimentary VIP parking, dedicated VIP lounge with comfortable furniture, $100 in Mempho Bucks, special VIP merch area and on-demand Mempho t-shirt printing, catered hors doeuvres throughout the day, exclusive VIP food options, private bar, private (and air-conditioned) restrooms, dedicated viewing area in front of main stage, and free WiFi + charging stations.

7. The Vendors: Delicious options from local favorites and out of town must-haves.

  • Mempho is a well rounded immersive experience not only with music, but with food and beverage as well. Choices range from the city’s famous barbecue, to exotic food trucks and gourmet cuisine prepared by the area’s finest chefs and restaurateurs. It will definitely be worth your time (and money) to get familiar with this year's vendor village. 

8. The Incendia Dome: Melding worlds of arts, engineering, & science.

  • According to the festival website, Incendia is a mobile, modular artistic installation and interactive event space designed to create a unique and awe-inspiring experience for all those who enter. The geodesic structure features a spellbinding propane flame effect across it's lofty ceilings, which provide light, heat, and wonderment to all those who dwell within.

    Incendia's essence lies within it's innovative design, which harnesses the chaotic nature of an ascending flame beneath an impenetrable ceiling to create an undulating, rippling, and downright enrapturing exothermic effect that projects light and heat upon those who dance below. The mystical pall cast by the enchanting plane of fire overhead facilitates an experience that cannot be adequately described to the objective bystander; it must be experienced to be understood.

9.  Zero Waste: This festival is committed.

  • Mempho also committed to the goal of zero waste. Their team team and brand partners demonstrate best in class environmental practices and stewardship with the goal of leaving a better place for the next generation. We find this to be as important as factor as any in this day and age. We're all in this thing together, and it's important to keep the big picture in mind. We should all appreciate Mempho's commitment to zero waste. 

10. We've been cooped up too long. The world is opening back up. It's time to treat yourself. 

  • It's probably been way too long since you've made it to a music festival. I'd be willing to bet it's been well over a year, even for those who make it a common practice. After the year of hell that we've all been through, we all deserve a weekend with music, friends, and lots of celebrating. If you're not already planning to attend Mempho Music Festival, hopefully this article has at least got you thinking a little more seriously about it. You might as well enter the ticket contest and see what happens!

Check out DittyTv's official 2019 recap of Mempho Music Festival here:


Manic Vision Shows Impressive Diversity With New Album 'No Change' May 31, 2021 16:56

Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography

Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

Birmingham-based five-piece Manic Vision has been making waves across the state in recent years, and their first full-length album is finally here. No Change is a culmination of over three years' work for founding members Andew Krist (guitar/vocals) and Hayes Laporte (bass), and the first studio effort to feature Benton Crane (keyboards), Aaron Kurz (guitar/vocals), and Carter Speidel (drums). After a positive experience working with Oneonta producer Brad White, the band called on their old friend for a unique "studio" experience to follow up. 
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“Well for one, it wasn’t a real studio. Brad White, the engineer that did our first EP, shut his studio down some time after we recorded Tired Eyes. We really liked him and his style though, so we figured we could just bring him in to help us record and album in our living room. It was a bold move, but I think he did a fantastic job. We really clicked on the new album in a way that frankly just didn’t happen on the first EP," said frontman Andrew Krist. 

Krist added, "I know that personally, I felt much more prepared in terms of coming into the studio (living room) and knowing what needed to get done, how things would be done, what parts would go where, etc. On Tired Eyes, I think we just kind of had an attitude of “eh we’ll figure that out in the studio”, which turned out to be a bad idea. Also, Benton, Carter, and Aaron weren’t around for Tired Eyes. They’re all super talented musicians and have great ears. It was nice to have them there to say, “Hey...maybe try this idea,” and it usually worked out pretty well.“

The album kicks off with a mellow, ambient original called "13th Street," which features some especially impressive slide work from Krist. Up next is a catchy, rocker called "Stumblin' Bob" that tells the story of an "interesting man," to say the least. One would be remiss not to mention Crane's organ work here. It's such a nice touch and perfectly placed. I can definitely see this one getting stuck in my head and coming back to it, which is always an endearing feature for any song. Bassist Hayes Laporte leads the way on "People In My Mind," which is just a jammy tune from start to finish. I'd expect this one to be a favorite in the live setting. It's a super danceable tune with plenty of room for stretching out some improvisation.

The fourth track, "Left, Right?" really caught my attention from the opening notes. Solid guitar playing and an especially tight beat from drummer Carter Speidel. Krist's vocals really define this band's sound, and the little things about his delivery are truly pleasing. Kurz leads the way with another catchy guitar intro on "Through The Window," while Krist adds some tasteful, funky licks. Kurz also takes lead vocals on this one, making way for a change of pace and an expanded sound. Multiple vocalists always make for a more intriguing band, and these guys certainly have it down. "People In My Mind" showcases a more bluesy side of the band and some scorching guitar work from Krist.

Kurz hops back on lead vocals for "Gin River," a more mellow tune with plenty of "sing-along" capability. Crane comes through in the clutch once again with some killer playing on the Wurlitzer. The band saves the title track, "No Change," for the eighth and final track, and you can't miss this one. The guitar work from Krist and Kurz is fantastic on this tune. The transitions are dynamic, and it's as strong of a chorus as you'll find on the album. 

“Recording No Change was really kind of funny in hindsight. I had played maybe one gig with the band before lockdown, so aside from some jamming/practicing, the 8-hour days we spent in our living room sweating, redoing takes, changing songs around and really just experimenting was how I settled in with everyone musically. It would have been bad if they had realized that I suck right as we set off to create this album. I’m really proud of how everything came together and how everyone shines," said Kurz.

To be completely honest, my knowledge of Manic Vision was very limited prior to listening to this album. Through the power of social media, I've grown familiar with their name and noticed them picking up steam over the past few years. Everything I've heard regarding their live performance has been very positive, but I just haven't had the right opportunity to see for myself. That being said, I couldn't be more impressed with what I hear. After multiple lineup changes, the band seems to have found its groove with Krist, Laporte, Kurz, Crane, and Speidel.

All eight tracks offered something different, while keeping me totally engaged. The "jam world" doesn't always produce stellar vocals, but I really enjoyed that aspect of this album. I'll be looking forward to catching my first Manic Vision show in 2021, and No Change will most definitely be in regular rotation moving forward. Below, you can find a few more quotes from the band which touch on this recent studio experience.

Stream Manic Vision's 'No Change' in its entirety here:

“I joined the band right before we started recording this album. At that point, it had been months of hardly leaving the house and playing music by myself. It felt great to be able to collaborate with the rest of the band and help put the finishing touches on these songs.”

-Benton Crane

“I remember at the beginning of COVID, we weren’t practicing for a while. That really sucked. Taking away gigs was one thing, but the fact that we couldn’t even get together and make music just really hurt. I guess it was a blessing in disguise, since most of the songs on the album were written in that time. But when we finally were able to get back together, I showed everyone all of these songs I had written, and they all just came to life. People were adding small changes that just made everything better. Finally, I suggested that we should just record an album in the living room that we had been playing in for the past six months. That really made it special. We weren’t doing anything but writing and recording for the longest time, and to see it all come together finally was just awesome.”

- Andrew Krist

“Live audio has always interested me. I started taking recording and engineering classes during college and have loved applying what I’ve learned to our band. I really enjoyed the recording process of both our EP and album. I felt as if we were all very hands on (especially when recording in our house) and we could shape the songs the way that we had envisioned them. We’ve started recording every live show and are hoping to release a live album sometime in the future. “

- Hayes Laporte

Album Artwork by Cy Simonton: Cymonton Design


Common Ground Shakedown Is Coming To Montgomery On July 24th May 24, 2021 13:09

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Artwork by Cy Simonton: Cymonton Design
Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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These are the type of announcements that we just love to see. After nearly 15 months of lockdown, social distancing, and virtually no public gatherings, concert announcements are surfacing nearly every day. Since we began our mission back in 2014, the core focus has been bringing new and exciting live music events to Montgomery, Alabama. Over that six year span, a number of fellow music enthusiasts have stepped up to introduce new music-centered events in the capital city. The latest is Common Ground Shakedown, which will feature three amazing, Alabama-based bands at Union Station Train Shed on Saturday, July 24th.  
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Common Ground Shakedown is a music and food festival benefitting local non-profit Common Ground MontgomeryThrough the efforts of generous donors and community partners championing change, Common Ground Montgomery provides developmental programs, camps, and activities while connecting youth in west Montgomery, Alabama, with resources and mentors. The initial lineup announcement includes Birmingham bands The Mountain Grass Unit and T.U.B. (The UnKnamed Band)
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We recently caught up with event organizer, Carter Goodwyn, to learn more about this event and what attendees can expect from this first year event:
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  • "Growing up in Montgomery, I spent many weekends helping my father’s business, Goodwyn Building, help Common Ground with various projects, whether it was renovating a house or facilitating after school activities at the campus off Mobile Rd. I was in awe of Bryan Kelly and the work he and his team do in the community. It’s hard to spend any amount of time with him and not feel inspired to lend a hand."
  • "Attendees can expect hours of incredible music from great bands with roots in Alabama, along with great local food vendors, drinks, and raffles. As a music lover, I'm really excited to see all these bands play on the same stage. The Mountain Grass Unit is new to the scene, but shows a lot of promise. I’m a sucker for some bluegrass, and they do it very well. I’ve seen T.U.B. more times than I can remember, and it’s always an incredible show. And as for the headliner that will be announced on a later date - they rock!"

Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by clicking here. Make sure to follow Common Ground Music & Food Festival on Facebook and Instagram for all of the latest updates. Stay tuned to Live & Listen for future updates and an opportunity to win a pair of tickets to the event.

ABOUT THE BANDS

The Mountain Grass Unit

 

Photo by Jean Longuil Frank

The Mountain Grass Unit consists of three Birmingham teenage pickers, Drury Anderson (mandolin and vocals), Luke Black (acoustic guitar), and Sam Wilson (upright bass). The band plays bluegrass tunes, occasionally adding a bluegrass touch to country, jazz, funk, rock, and even metal.

T.U.B. (The UnKnamed Band)

Photo by Stephanie Jennings Photography

There is nothing like a Grateful Dead concert. For fans of the jam-band genre, truer words have never been spoken. In the current era of tribute bands and exact recreations, TUB was conceived as something different. The idea was simple: share the experience of musical exploration and improvisation that inspired the Grateful Dead with the current generation – but don’t limit the set lists to one band. TUB primarily focuses on the music of the Grateful Dead, Phish, and WSP, but will also flavor their sets with a nod to the Band, Steely Dan and other musically engaging artists.

TUB was formed in late Fall during 2010 when guitarist Brian Haynes reconnected with drummer Alan Eberhardt. Based on their shared love of the Grateful Dead, they were determined to build a band with set lists focused on improvisational music. Brian enlisted keyboardist Robert O’Neal, who then recommended Lee Amberson as vocalist for the “yet un-named” project. The line-up was solidified when Greg Staggs moved back to AL to become the band’s regular bassist in 2013. Although O'Neal left the band in the summer of 2019, the core four of TUB continue the journey with Matt Wiley in the keys chair.
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At each TUB show, a choice selection of tunes is played with the same attitude as a jazz artist might approach a standard or a classical performer might interpret a composition: the spirit of the original piece is respected while also being rediscovered by the passion and interaction between the musicians and the audience.
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Every show is unique in terms of the songs performed, the order they appear in, and the unlimited direction of the improvisations. This belief in the power of live music and the interplay between the energy of the fans and the band make each TUB show an unforgettable experience. True Phans and even casual listeners throughout the South are spreading the word: TUB shows are not to be missed
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Billy Strings Announce Major National Tour April 29, 2021 12:04

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Photo by Rylan Lewis: Rylewphoto
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Few acts have stormed into 2021 as hot as Billy Strings, and today's announcement only affirms there are no signs of slowing down. The "jamgrass" phenomenon just announced a 55-date nationwide tour, which kicks off with a two-night run in Syracuse, NY (July 29th - 30th). The tour includes a three-night Halloween run in Asheville, NC (October 29th - 31st), a four-night run in Atlanta, GA (December 9th - 12th), and concludes with a three-night New Year's run in Grand Rapids, MI (December 30th - January1st). See below for the official tour graphic and head over to band's official website for all of the latest details. 
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Mempho Music Festival Will Feature Two Nights of Widespread Panic April 28, 2021 12:00

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Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography 
Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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This is the type of announcement we've all been waiting for. Live music sure seems to be creeping its way back into reality, and today's news from Mempho Music Festival is amongst the most encouraging we've heard in over a year. The fourth year event, which is held at Radians Amphitheater at Memphis (TN) Botanical Gardens, just announced the initial lineup for Friday, October 1st - Sunday, October 3rd.
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Headliners include Widespread Panic (two nights) and The Avett Brothers, with additional performances from Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Black Pumas, Lucinda Williams, Moon Taxi, Julian Baker, Waxahatchee, Christone "Kingfish" Ingram, Andy Frasco & The U.N., Will Hoge, Southern Avenue, Liz Brasher, The City Champs, and Dirty Streets
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Early bird and Tier 1 weekend passes for the festival are already sold out prior to the lineup announcement. With the anticipated excitement surrounding this festival and its performers, we encourage those who plan to attend to go ahead and purchase your tickets while supplies last. Make sure to stay tuned for future lineup additions, as well as an opportunity to win a pair of weekend passes via Live & Listen. 
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For all of the latest updates on Mempho Music Festival, make sure to follow them on Facebook and Instagram. You can click here to visit the official ticketing page. 
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Video Premiere: Freekbass "Why Do I (Keep Falling In Love With You)?" April 28, 2021 07:57

Press release via Freekbass

Freekbass and Sky White release a video for their new single, "Why Do I (Keep Falling In Love With You)?", streaming now. Scroll to the end of article to watch the world premiere of the video today.

Freekbass had just gotten a new Rickenbacker bass, and to get the classic Rick-tone, he used a pick to create the driving bassline on this recording, a first for Freekbass. Once the groove was created, he called on Sky White, his bandmate, and simultaneous-member of Fozy Shazam, who added synth and piano. White wrote and recorded the lyrics, choosing the MXR Talkbox for the vocal treatment. Freek then added vocoder for additional vocals on top of White's parts, for a syn-thany of layers.

"Why Do I (Keep Falling in Love With You)? is about giving away parts of yourself until nothing is left," White explains about the lyrics. "We explore that by presenting the lyrics through Talkbox and vocoder to come off as not quite human." The resulting sound has the feel of a love-sick robot, which was also the inspiration for the music video. 

"The video concept is simple. Lonely astronaut-robots, looking for love," Freek says. "The iphone-mouth-over thing was Angie, the director's idea, and super clever, I thought. It really worked well with the track and will be a cool time capsule-thing one day, when we no longer carry around phones and just use the implanted microchips in our retina's."

And while playing with a pick was one milestone for Freek, a face-to-face video shoot represented another. "After over a year of long-distance creating, it was so nice to shoot this video with Sky and I being in the same room. Since we are both vaccinated, we were like - Hey?! Come on over! Let's do this!"

"I think this is the first track I've ever recorded Talkbox on, too," said White. While he was familiar with using Talkbox for live shows, he has never used it in the studio.

Watch the premiere of "Why Do I (Keep Falling In Love With You)?' here:

 


Winston Ramble Makes Strong Statement With New EP 'See It Through' April 9, 2021 14:40

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Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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The past year has presented immeasurable challenges for bands across the globe, and Birmingham's Winston Ramble is no exception. With the outbreak of COVID-19 causing a global pandemic, the world would quickly change, and no one would feel the effects more than that of the music industry. While concerts and music festivals came to a screeching halt, musicians were forced to take a step back and reevaluate their creative outlook. Live streams became the new norm, with the hope that music fans would also adjust and be willing to make online donations in order to keep their favorite bands alive. 
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Here we are thirteen months later, and slowly but surely, the concept of live music (with actual fans in attendance) is making its way back. If there is one positive that has come out all of this madness, it is the amount of time that musicians have found to write new, original material. It's safe to say that fans can expect an onslaught of new releases in 2021, and we're already seeing that theory prove to be true. 
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Winston Ramble has been a staple of the Alabama music scene since releasing their debut self-titled album in 2016. The band's popularity has expanded far beyond their home base of Birmingham, and they have continued to build a notable fanbase across the southeast. While a handful of singles have been released since 2016, fans like myself have been itching for a fresh collection of Ramble originals. Just a few weeks ago, the band delivered exactly that with an incredible five-song EP titled 'See It Through'. 
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The EP starts off with a warm, catchy tune called "Feel It," which embodies every quality of the band that fans have come to expect. Justin Oliver leads the way with some beautiful work on the mandolin, and frontman Drew Benefield's one-of-a-kind, raspy vocals are in full effect from the get-go. This marks the band's first studio effort with new lead guitarist Taylor Goodwin, and he and Oliver couldn't possibly compliment each other any better than they do here. 
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The band slows things down a bit with "Some Folks Say," which definitely has somewhat of a ballad feel to it. Once again, Oliver and Goodwin join forces to create a beautifully harmonic vibe for what is surely one of the more blissful tunes in the Ramble catalog. Goodwin's blistering guitar solo will prove to be a highlight for any and all future live performances. 
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Listeners will need to prepare and buckle up for the EP's title track, "See It Through." Oliver sends the band into high gear right away, and the rhythm section of Coty West (drums) and Max Chubb (bass) set the tone for an absolute rocker. This band has always done a fantastic job of leading their audience into a dancing frenzy, and this tune may be the best example to date. "See It Through" will no doubt be a highlight in the live setting, with Oliver and Goodwin dueling it out in epic fashion. 
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One common thread of any great band is their ability to take a cover and make it their own, while making sure to respect the integrity of the song. Winston Ramble has shown their ability to accomplish this time and time again, whether it be Grateful Dead, Alice In Chains, Jason Isbell, or even Blind Melon. While they have mastered countless covers, I honestly believe they have reached the peak with this studio take on Al Green's "I'm a Ram." It's almost as if Benefield was born to take on these vocals. While Oliver is an absolute beast on the mandolin, he's equally as dangerous with the harmonica. It adds the perfect touch to an already flawless cover, and I've found myself listening to this one on repeat many times in the past few weeks. There is no doubt that Green would be proud of this effort. 
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The final track on See it Through is titled "Ain't What It Seems," and while Benefield has delivered some fantastic lyrical efforts in the past, these are undoubtedly amongst his best yet. I believe that this is a tune that just about anyone can relate to on many levels. This particular line summarizes many of life's challenges in a clever fashion: "Ain't always the path of least resistance that takes you where you wanna be. Maybe that place off in the distance ain't got any grass that's green, and it ain't what it all would seem." West and Chubb once again provide a powerfully dynamic rhythm/beat for yet another Ramble classic. 
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The Alabama music scene continues to thrive with an impressive variety of bands across the musical spectrum, and Winston Ramble is absolutely amongst the head of the pack. While fans waited patiently for this release, I feel confident that I can confirm the band exceeded all expectations. The addition of Goodwin on lead guitar has only proven to raise the bar for these boys from Winston County. This is as unique of a band as you'll find in any region of the country, and the sky is truly the limit. With the world of music beginning to open back up, you can expect big things from Winston Ramble in the years to come. 
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Stream the new EP in it's entirety via Spotify here:
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All Things Adam Deitch: One of America's Most Intriguing Drummers April 9, 2021 12:08

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Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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Believe it or not, we have now passed the one year anniversary of the entire world being put on pause. In March of 2020, life as we know it changed in a way that we never could have expected. As cases of COVID-19 began to sweep across America, we were suddenly given strict orders to stay at home and avoid public interaction at all costs.
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While so many industries were seriously affected from this very moment, none felt the wrath of this global pandemic more than the world of live music. When you're expected to avoid crowds and maintain a six foot distance from others at all times, concerts are nearly impossible. Music venues, bars, and restaurants were the first to be shut down, and many are still waiting to reopen their doors a year later.
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As we look on the past year, we're catching up with a number of our favorite musicians to learn more about their COVID journey. I've been a fan of both Lettuce and Break Science for at least a decade now, so it was only fitting to find a way to include virtuoso drummer Adam Deitch in this interview series. Check out the full conversation below, and make sure to follow both bands on Facebook and Instagram for all of their latest updates in 2021.
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Let's kick this off with some general background info. What initially led you towards the drum kit?
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Adam: The drum thing started because my great uncle, my father's uncle, was a big band drummer in the 30s and 40s. He played with a bunch of big bands, and he had his own gig, where he wrote and arranged all of the music for his group in New York City. He was the first drummer in my family. He inspired my dad to be a drummer. My dad went to Berklee College of Music, where he met my mom, and then they had me. That's where the drummer thing comes from. 
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Very cool. So, both of your parents went to Berklee?
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Adam: Both of them went to Berklee, and they met there. They're both professional drummers, teachers, and college professors.
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Wow. That's so cool. I knew a little bit about your Dad, but I didn't realize your Mom was also a drummer. Sounds like you were thrown into it early on.
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Adam: Oh yeah. From two years old and on, it was just drum sets and having fun on the kit.
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That's amazing. So, I'm guessing once you got a little older and into your teenage years, you were on the fast track towards pursuing this as a career.
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Adam: Yeah. First, I was sitting in with their band. My dad also plays the keyboards, so they could be in a group together. They were a duo, and they played all over the tri-state area. I would sit in with them on percussion, and then later, drums. Then I was eventually old enough to play with people my own age and even older people. I was in a bunch of bands from elementary school all the way up to high school. I met the Lettuce guys when I was 16 at a summer thing at Berklee. That's really when the band started.
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Gotcha. So, I was recently listening to Eric Krasno's podcast with Joe Russo. He mentioned that you guys had the same teacher at some point as teenagers. Can you elaborate on that?
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Adam: Yep. Once I was 13 or 14, my parents couldn't really teach me anymore. I was getting headstrong, and I needed to learn outside of the house, you know? Frank was my first teacher. I had been with him for a year or two, and one day, Joe is there. We had never met, and we were both 13 or 14 years old. Our teacher felt like we should know each other, so we played a little for each other that day, and we've been friends ever since. 
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That's such a cool thing that you linked up at such a young age, and here you both are leading the way so many years later.
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Adam: Thanks so much man. We've always inspired each other. I'm a big fan of his. He comes from this John Bonham type of place. He loves those big, open drums. Then he made his way into the Grateful Dead world and brought some of that raw, Bonham power into the Dead thing. That's why they're so big now. He puts that extra amount of electricity into it. In a way, he added a lot to that song book. I love Joe. He's been a great friend for a long time. 
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You're absolutely right about that. You mentioned getting linked up with the other Lettuce guys when you were 16. Tell me about that project coming to life.
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Adam: At age 16, we were all unsure what we were going to do. We all really helped each other. Through that, it's the basis of our bond both as human beings and musicians. Being each other's cheerleaders and supporters. We started playing as a five piece: me, Kraz, Schmeens, Zoidis, and Jesus. It just felt right. Kraz had the background in music business. He was able to get us some dorm gigs. Then some more gigs followed. The band started getting some exposure and playing around.
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Kraz joined Soulive, and the rest of us started doing freelance work for other artists. After a while, Kraz started having Lettuce open up for Soulive, which is why Soulive is so important to the Lettuce legacy. You know what I mean?
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Absolutely. That makes sense, because I was always curious about Lettuce's early years. I knew you guys got started in the early 90s, but Krasno was super active with Soulive during that time as well. It wasn't until a little later on that I was hearing as much about Lettuce. What was the band's activity level like during those early years?
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Adam: It was very minimal. We would do a few college gigs here and there. Little things like that. It was pretty minimal. It wasn't until probably 2003 or 2004 that we were like, "Wait a minute. This is a serious thing. We need to really regroup and do this." That's basically how it went down.
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Very cool. You mentioned doing some freelance work for other artists early on. Can you elaborate on that?
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Adam: My first big tour was The Average White Band. They're a very famous funk band from the 70s. They brought me around the world. I toured with them for three years. I got to open up for Earth, Wind, & Fire, Ohio Players, Stevie Wonder, Chaka Kahn, to name a few. That was a huge learning experience. From there, Kraz recommended me for John Scofield's band. He set up a dinner, and Sco wanted a drummer to take on tour. Kind of following the path of what he did with Medeski, Marin, & Wood and with Soulive. That's really where my career started to bubble. 
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I can imagine. What an incredible gig. I had forgotten that you toured with Scofield. 
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Adam: Yeah man. I did three years and three records with him, and we got nominated for a Grammy on the first record. It was a life changer.
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Wow. What an experience. At what point did you link up with Pretty Lights? Did that lead to the formation of Break Science?
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Adam: Break Science was going on first. Actually, it was probably around the same time. We both started around 2007-2008. Derek (Pretty Lights) and I had some mutual friends who recommended me for his thing. I thought it would be a good way for Break Science to link up with him. It all worked out, and we became his live band. We were one of the few live bands in that EDM world. That was a major thing, and it also introduced Lettuce to a whole new generation of people that had never heard of us. 
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That makes sense. And this was around 2008-2009?
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Adam: It was probably 2010 when this went down. 
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Gotcha. I vividly remember all of this happening as I was finishing college.
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Adam: Yeah...by the time I was playing with him in 2010-2011, he was playing really big places. It was an experience that really helped out everything I was doing in life.
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I can imagine. Well one of the main things I wanted to cover in this interview was the experience of this past year. As a professional musician, I know your life was turned upside down as the reality of a global pandemic set in last year.  I was curious to know where you were when this happened, and how you and your bandmates have managed to make it through to this point.
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Adam: We were in Europe. We had just done the best tour ever. We'd been all over Europe in the tour bus. I knew when we had to skip Italy that this shit was serious. Then Trump imposed the ban on returning to the U.S., and we had to get back before it was official. We got back just in time, and then all of us just stopped in our tracks. We had to figure out what to do with our time. For me, it was just write, create Lettuce tunes, create Break Science songs, and just have an output of creativity, you know?
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Over the course of the last year, is writing what you would credit towards keeping you inspired and sane throughout the last year?
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Adam: Absolutely. The only reason I didn't lose by gourd is because I was writing almost every day. That's what kept me going, and that's what will keep me going until I'm back on the road. 
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I saw that both Lettuce and Break Science recently played their first shows in quite some time, right?
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Adam: Yeah man. Lettuce and Break Science both played Cervantes in Denver just a few weeks ago. With Lettuce, we spent five days in the studio recording all of the new songs, then we streamed two shows from Cervantes. Then, a week later, I had two more shows with Break Science.
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Man...I'm sure those were an exciting couple of weeks.
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Adam: Oh yeah. I definitely cried happy tears. Absolutely. 
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And we can expect a new Lettuce album coming up at some point?
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Adam: Yeah, we recorded a bunch of tunes. We're feeling really good about it. It's our best work yet. It still has to be mixed. We'll probably get back in to do that in April. Then it will be mastered. We'll get it out after that. 
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What can people expect from you guys moving forward this year?
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Adam: We just got our first festival gig at Suwannee Rising. He's got this great, socially distanced thing out there. I believe it's in early April. We have some other things coming in, and if management feels that they are doing it correctly with proper distancing, then we will do it. If not, we'll pass and wait for the next opportunity.
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Absolutely. I'm sure it's exciting to have some gigs on the horizon. I know the fans share in that sentiment. Y'all's music brings so much joy and happiness to so many people. It will be worth the wait. I appreciate you taking some time to chat with me. I'll be looking forward to the next opportunity to see both Lettuce and Break Science. 
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Adam: I appreciate you saying that. Thanks for doing this Jordan!
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Phoning It In From The Cellar: A Conversation With Keller Williams March 14, 2021 17:53

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Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography
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Believe it or not, we are fast approaching the one year anniversary of the entire world being put on pause. In March of 2020, life as we know it changed in a way that we never could have expected. As cases of COVID-19 began to sweep across America, we were suddenly given strict orders to stay at home and avoid public interaction at all costs.
-
While so many industries were seriously affected from this very moment, none felt the wrath of this global pandemic more than the world of live music. When you're expected to avoid crowds and maintain a six foot distance from others at all times, concerts are nearly impossible. Music venues, bars, and restaurants were the first to be shut down, and many are still waiting to reopen their doors a year later.
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As we look on the past year, we're catching up with a number of our favorite musicians to learn more about their COVID journey. I've been fortunate enough to call myself a Keller Williams fan for twenty years now, so it was only fitting to continue this interview series with the mad scientist himself. Check out the full conversation below, and make sure to tune into Keller's latest "studio release," Cell, which is now available on all major streaming outlets. And for those wondering where they can catch Keller in 2021, simply head over to his official website.
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I appreciate you taking the time to chat today, Keller. So, you're down in Florida this week, right?
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Keller: Correct. I'm playing down in St. Petersburg on Friday, and then Del Ray Beach on Sunday.
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These will be outdoor, socially distanced shows?
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Keller: Absolutely. This is all outside with reduced capacity and table seating. We're taking the whole thing very, very seriously and trying to create an experience while being as safe as possible. 
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That's great to hear. We're all keeping our fingers crossed for more progress. I'm much more encouraged as these vaccines continue to roll out. 
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Keller: Absolutely. I am as well.
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Well I know you're a Fredericksbug, VA guy. I was curious to know a little more about your musical background, and what led you to pursuing a career in music?
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Keller: Well, I guess it all started with Hee Haw. Roy Clark and Buck Owen's pickin' and a grinnin'. It was an old TV show. I remember watching as a toddler. I was probably three or four. I remember watching the guys play guitar, and I would pretend to play with a tennis racket. I finally got a little starter guitar. I'm right-handed, but with no strap, as a little kid, I kind of held the neck with the right hand, so I could pretend to play it.
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When I was about ten, and I actually took my first lesson, they were like, "Well, we need to string your guitar differently, or you need to turn it around." From there, they were teaching me scales and the basic learning tools of guitar. I was on the baseball team and swim team at that point, and I kind of left it for a while. Then when I was about fourteen, someone showed me "Smoke on the Water." I kind of went with that, and later on, another friend showed me the basic cowboy chords. Everything you can do on the first couple of frets. The C's, D's, E's, G's, and things like that. 
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It turns out that once I had G, C, and D, I could play so many songs off the radio. I think at age 16, I had my first paid gig doing just that. Sitting on a stool playing covers during happy hour for dinner and tips. I did that a few times. This was 1986, I guess. I moved on to college at Virginia Wesleyan and played in a few bands. One band in particular stayed together for a little bit. Everyone had day jobs, and everyone wanted to put our gig money towards making a record. I had to put the money towards rent and bills. 
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I did have a few random jobs. I worked for a temporary construction agency. I would show up in the morning, and they sent me out to do grunt work that other construction workers didn't want to do. One in particular was taking a piece of cinder block, smashing it, and then taking a piece of the smashed cinder block and scraping mortar out of the cracks of walls of a school being built. Eight hours in long pants, boots, and a hard hat in the middle of the Virginia summer. 
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Back then, minimum wage was maybe $3.50 an hour. It might have been hard enough work that I was paid $4.50 an hour. After sitting on a stool playing covers for two hours and making as much as I did for eight hours of scraping mortar, that's kind of what led me to pursue this unrealistic career of being paid to sing and make up songs. 
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Skip ahead to about 1992, that's when I gave up on school and ideas of "real jobs." I was totally focused on making money playing music. Around that time, there was a lot of Mondays in Fredericksburg, Tuesday/Wedesnday in Virginia Beach, Thursday night somewhere else, maybe Richmond. On the weekends, I'd try to open up for bigger bands as a solo act. It's pretty much all of the gigs that my band was getting. Once we split up, I could go back to those venues and get a solo gig for the same amount of money, which was about $250. 
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I was raking it in, you know? It just kind of went from there. I guess my style kind of came about from those gigs. Those were a dude in the corner of a restaurant. Move the tables around. I'd bring in my little PA, and I would play. These were places that people weren't coming to see live music, but there just happened to be live music there. No one was really paying attention, so after a while, I stopped paying attention to them. I was focusing on this music, and out of that came my style, I guess.
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I had a lot of influences, the obvious being the Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia, and Bob Weir. Their styles of rhythm and lead, and well as Phil Lesh's obscure bass lines, and of course the improvisation. There was also Michael Hedges, who had a huge influence on me. I was probably about eighteen when I got turned onto him. I'd just gotten into the Grateful Dead and experimenting with all kinds of things. 
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Along comes Michael Hedges, who is this solo acoustic guitarist, and he's up there demanding the stage of the audience. His tuning and playing style all hit me. Mostly, it was the way he would do cover songs. He would do them in different tunings, different keys, and make them his own while staying true to the original. I took a lot of that from him as well. That's kind of the long shot there. 
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That's interesting. I wasn't aware of Michael Hedges. Was he one to incorporate multiple instruments as well? When did you start to tap in the world of looping?
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Keller: Right. Well, that came from hours and hours of playing in places where people weren't paying attention. I needed a different avenue to make it more interesting for myself. So, without being able to afford humans to do it...there's nothing more expensive than human beings. Their pay, food, lodging, gas, and all of that. There was no way I could afford a band, but I needed more musically. That's kind of where the looping came in. It basically started with voice and guitar. I think I incorporated the bass in maybe '99? Once the bass is in that loop, and the air started to move, people started to dance and pay more attention. Then in 2000-2001, I actually started selling tickets and playing places where people came to see the music. 
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Very cool. So, at this point you're well established in Virigina. I know you ultimately made your way out to Colorado and linked up with The String Cheese Incident. I really got thrown into both of y'all's music around 2002. Tell me a little about that experience and going out on the road with those guys.
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Keller: Yeah...String Cheese was originally more of an acoustic four-piece. They're obviously a six-piece powerhouse now. When I first met them, it was Keith Moseley on electric bass, Bill Nershi on acoustic guitar, Mike Kang on acoustic mandolin and fiddle, and Michael Travis on drums and percussion. Really what got me from the get-go was Michael Travis playing kick drum and snare with one foot and hand, while playing hi-hat and percussion with the other. This was all at the same time, like a two person beat that was always happening. 
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I guess this was in a basement in Telluride. They were playing an after show for the Telluride Bluegrass Festival of 1995. I had just moved out to Colorado. I was 25 years old with no real address. I saw them for the first time, and I had a few gigs lined up, but I would go see them at different mountain bars. I saw them play three or four times before I actually met them, which was in a small bar in Colorado Springs. I met Keith first, then Travis next.
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The next year, I was living in Steamboat Springs, and String Cheese was playing a free show in the town park there, maybe opening for Maceo Parker. I was doing a Wednesday night gig across the street, and we had met briefly. By the end of the night. I had everyone plugged in to my little PA on a stick. That was really cool, and I think it was maybe spring of 1997 that I did a tour with them. We started on the West Coast and made our way out east.
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That was my first trip to the West Coast. My first gig out west was the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco. I'll never forget that. As a kid, I always wanted to play the West Coast and California specifically. 
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Watch Keller Williams perform "Best Feeling" with The String Cheese Incident here:
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So was it shortly after that tour that the idea came to take them into the studio and record the Breathe album?
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Keller: Right. Yeah, so when was the Breathe album recorded again? I know it was released in '99, but I think we recorded it at the end of '98. I'm not sure. But yeah, we had played together on stage several times. I would sit in for encores. They're always really generous with their opening acts. We did that a lot, and we were really comfortable. I remember sending them all of the songs on a cassette tape that I recorded in my motor home that was plugged into campground power. 
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I remember this super low hum that went throughout the whole tape. Somehow, they learned all of the songs from that. I think we spent a week in the Colorado Sound Studio outside of Denver. We put that thing out, and that was just such a cool experience working with those guys. I think we might have played all of the songs together at the same time, and maybe kept the drum track and kind of built it from there. That was an amazing experience, and even more amazing to play all of those songs at Red Rocks for the album's 20th anniversary. 
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Oh yeah. I remember watching the live stream of that set. Breathe and Laugh are both incredibly nostalgic albums for me. Those albums that stayed in the cd player when you got your driver's license. It's crazy to think about that being 20 years ago, but here we are.
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I know a lot has happened between now and then. You've had quite a few projects: The WMDs, More than a Little, and countless performances with Grateful Grass and Grateful Gospel. We don't have to go into detail on all of them, but I was curious to know more about the origin of Grateful Gospel. Was this project born through LOCKN' Festival?
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Keller: So, with More than a Little, when we first started, there were three members who were paid to play churches on Sunday. There was one guy who did two churches. So, the gospel element was kind of in place. I was using these amazing players and teaching them my weird, funky songs. They would incorporate what they've learned playing gospel, which is amazing. It's very different from any other group of musicians that I've played with. 
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Their way to pay attention, improvise, and put chords and harmonies together was amazing. So, with More than a Little, the gospel element was already there. I got on the bill at LOCKN', and I think I played with the Keels on the first year. We were struggling to get confirmed on the bill again, so we put together this idea for Sunday morning gospel and Grateful Dead tunes. 
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LOCKN' is very Grateful Dead oriented, you know? Pete Shapiro has a huge connection with the band. He definitely focuses on that type of vibe. That's where it went from there. They allowed me to do the three days of Grateful Grass at 11AM on this little stage in the woods. I felt that three sets of Grateful Grass was maybe a little too much. I had this band that was steeped in gospel. Maybe I could teach them some of these obvious spiritual songs that Jerry and the Dead played and incorporate it into the morning gospel. It just kind of took off from there, you know? 
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Watch Keller Williams' Grateful Gospel perform "Mighty High" at LOCKN' 2015 here:
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I know it has quickly become one of the highlights of the year for so many people. I've been fortunate enough to see Grateful Gospel once and Grateful Grass a few times. I look forward to more of those sets.
 
Keller: Well, thank you so much.
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Before we wrap this up, I wanted to touch on what this last year has been like for you specifically. We're coming up on the one-year mark of everything shutting down. I wanted to see if you could tell me about what was happening and where you were as the reality starting setting in last year.
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Keller: Yeah, it's been an interesting year, to say the least. I was on the road getting ready to play Memphis, Little Rock, and Oklahoma City. It was a Thursday, Friday, Saturday run. I think it was March 12th, and I had just finished soundcheck. My management team (Madison House) and booking agency (Paradigm), the wonderful people who take care of me, were getting pressure to cancel the show. I suggested we check with the other venues we were playing that weekend. The folks in Little Rock and Oklahoma City were like, "Fuck it. Come on!" So, I talked everyone into letting me play the Memphis show on Thursday, and I was back home by 4:00PM the next day. So, March 12th in Memphis was the last gig.
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Those first couple of weeks, I didn't take it very well. I was definitely concerned about my financial future. I didn't have much of a backup plan for making money. Now, if I had my fingers chopped off, I have insurance. (laughs). I'd be good for a couple of years. But this is something totally different. There was a lot of anger and a lot of brush clearing with a machete. Making a path that I've been wanting to make for forever. I made a path down to the river, and I got into fishing. Never really caught anything. I didn't have a whole lot of other hobbies.
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There were a whole lot of weird, interesting ideas going off in my head. By that time, I was looking to the future and had to embrace the live streaming idea. We got on it pretty quick, and we were able to establish this really interesting community called "The Cellar Dwellers." I'm very fortunate to have a large basement with all of my show posters, and there is a great vibe to it. I was able to start up pretty quickly. Doing a very basic, one microphone / one camera type of thing. I incorporated taking a bunch of requests. It's done on StageIt.com, which is a streaming service where you pay $5 to see the show, and you can tip more if you want.
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Everyone was doing Facebook live, which I respect, but it's all free, and you can choose to tip if you want. After a few months of that, I think people just stop tipping. I would imagine, after doing it for months and months, it becomes difficult. But, you know, we did this thing in the basement, and people from all over the country came for every show. People would meet up online on Wednesday nights. We hit it hard at first. We ended up going with Wednesday nights at 9:00PM EST. I think we've now done 62 episodes. It's an amazing thing. 
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That, in itself, helped me play songs to their entirety. If I'm not in front of an audience, or no one's listening, I'll play a song and stop in the middle. That's not good. You can really get lazy like that, and that whole time, there is nowhere to go. I'm out on the back porch late at night, improvising with different tunings. I came up with a whole bunch of those and sent them to this guy named Bobby West, who is a DJ/producer out of Denver. He goes by the name Erothyme. He took all of these tracks, ran them through a system, created these songs, and out comes this record called Cell. All of my tracks, which were guitar, piano, vibraphone, and vocal, were recorded on my cellphone. 
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I wasn't going anywhere. There weren't any available studios. This was the pandemic quarantine shutdown. So, I just recorded everything on my cellphone. I'd record the vocals in a closet, so they couldn't hear the air conditioning or the kids screaming. I was really surprised by the quality of the product when it finally came out. A lot of people don't know that unless you tell them. You can tell with the guitar. It sounds like there is not a quality microphone on the guitar. The vocals, I thought, were just like normal studio vocals. I recorded them on a voice memo.
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That is innovation at its finest. 
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Keller: My joke is that I'm very proud of that album, but I literally phoned it in.
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I love that. I'm sure there will be some more Cellar streams to come. I saw just today that Suwannee Rising announced a socially distanced festival today. It seems like things are certainly heading in the right direction with vaccine distribution. The light at the end of the tunnel doesn't seem so far away.
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Keller: I agree. I'm actually playing down there at the end of this month. It's a spring fest / golf cart / drive-in type thing. They're pulling it off. I'm doing a solo set and a set with Travis Book from The Infamous Stringdusters on bass.
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Man, I know that's got to be exciting. You're one of the last legit concerts I saw in late December of 2019. Can't wait for the next opportunity, whenever that may be. Thanks so much, once again, for your time today. 
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Keller: Absolutely. This has been really enjoyable. I appreciate you hanging with me all these years, Jordan.
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Listen to Keller Williams' new album, Cell, via Spotify here:
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Funk You Announces 10th Anniversary Tour Dates March 12, 2021 13:21

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Photo via Funk You 
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Georgia-based funk outfit Funk You will celebrate a decade of making music together with a brief run of shows across the Southeast U.S. scheduled for April and early May.

Announced earlier this week, the seven-date run of spring performances begins on April 16th at Victory North in Savannah, GA, and will continue with scheduled stops at the Salvage Station in Asheville, NC on April 17th; Music at Meyer Park Series in Gulf Shores, AL on April 22nd (free show); Callanwolde Fine Arts Center in Atlanta, GA on April 24th; Charleston Pourhouse in Charleston, SC on April 30th which includes both early and late shows; Heist Brewery and Barrel Arts in Charlotte, NC on May 7th; and wrapping with a show at The Society Garden in Macon, GA on May 8th.

The tour’s announcement notes that all venues along the tour will adhere to state and local COVID-19 guidelines.

We caught up with guitarist Evan Miller to learn a little more about the band's 10-year journey, as well as the challenges that the pandemic has presented for nationally touring acts over the past year:

"Its crazy to think about. It honestly doesn’t even feel like its been that long. I can remember thinking about starting a funk band after seeing Lettuce for the first time at Bear Ceek in November of 2010. Funk You played their first show in Dec of that year. Looking back on the days that we were getting started is always fun, even though we had no idea what we were doing. We started out playing around Georgia in 2011 and that grew regionally into touring most of the country. I think we all share the same feeling of accomplishment after so many years of hard work."

"It was definitely hard to see all the momentum we had worked hard on building just come to a complete stop. We stayed positive and dedicated a bunch of time at Prana Recording Studio in Lilburn, GA and Sneaker Thief Studio in Athens, GA. The time off allowed us to record a ton of music, with some of that energy going into recording live streams. Be on the look out for a special release coming soon."

"This past year also taught us a lot about the other side of being in a band, that are just as important as going out and playing shows. We focused on building a stronger online presence, as well as putting more attention into our merchandise. We are very thankful for the people that have supported us throughout the past year with their contributions. It’s exciting to finally have some shows on the calendar. They are all reduced capacity, socially distanced events and we can’t wait to see everyone."

Purchase Tickets to Funk You's 10th Anniversary Tour


Catching Up With Kyle Hollingsworth of The String Cheese Incident March 4, 2021 22:35

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Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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Believe it or not, we are fast approaching the one year anniversary of the entire world being put on pause. In March of 2020, life as we know it changed in a way that we never could have expected. As cases of COVID-19 began to sweep across America, we were suddenly given strict orders to stay at home and avoid public interaction at all costs.
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While so many industries were seriously affected from this very moment, none felt the wrath of this global pandemic more than the world of live music. When you're expected to avoid crowds and maintain a six foot distance from others at all times, concerts are nearly impossible. Music venues, bars, and restaurants were the first to be shut down, and many are still waiting to reopen their doors a year later.
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As we look on the past year, we're catching up with a number of our favorite musicians to learn more about their COVID journey. I've been fortunate enough to call myself a fan of The String Cheese Incident for twenty years now, so it was only fitting to kick off this interview series with keyboardist Kyle Hollingsworth. Check out the full conversation below, and make sure to tune into Kyle's live streams from Boulder Theatre on Sunday, March 7th!
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Well Kyle, it's great to have a few minutes to speak with you today. I typically always start these interviews off with some history and background info. Tell me a little bit about how this journey started back in Baltimore.
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Kyle: Sure. So, Baltimore...essentially, we're below the Mason-Dixon Line. We're kind of in the South, but not quite. I can relate to the community, and those sticky summer nights where it's so hot you just have to keep the fans on. I lived right by the water. I would go downtown to the inner harbor and see music when I could. At that point, everything was 21 and up. I'd stand outside some of the club and listen to some of the bands coming through. Who would those bands have been? It may have been a little early for ARU and Spin Doctors. Maybe it was around that time, but I'd go listen outside of the door. 
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I also started studying at that point. I wanted to be a rock and roll guy. I grew up listening to music. I was a child actor for a little while, but I was also a bit nervous when it came to auditions. So, I was said "Forget that. What else can I do to be on stage?" I knew I could practice piano forever, so studied as much as I could. I realized that I needed more chops, so I went to college and studied jazz piano in Baltimore.
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I was then finally old enough to start playing the clubs I would visit when I was younger. It was awesome and just so much fun. We weren't old enough to drink yet, probably 19 or 20, but we'd get ushered in. My first band was called Black Friday. There was a bit of a punk scene in Baltimore and DC at that time. I wasn't that into punk, but I liked the edge that it brought. It was loud and had a lot of energy. Black Friday had some of those punk elements while also being highly improvisational. 
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So, that band did pretty well. We'd get to play the clubs, but we couldn't hang out because of our age. We had a good following though, so everyone would still come see us. We just had to dip out the back door after. We worked through that, and that's how I got started. At that point, my brother was really into the Grateful Dead, so I listened to a lot of those tapes with Brent Mydland on keys. Some of The Doors stuff for sure. Then there was all the stuff in the pop world, like The Cars. At some point, I discovered The Talking Heads. They came out with "Burning Down the House," and I was just like, "Wow, that's so cool!" That led me to some of the more trippy albums like Remain in Light
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At some point, I was probably 23 or 24, and I'd kind of done the Baltimore thing. I decided I was going to move to Colorado and see what's happening there. I originally went out there to be a forest ranger. I quickly realized I was a little better at playing music, so I put my focus there. I played with local bands like Lakewood Sunshine and Durt, who ended up opening for The String Cheese Incident. I sat in with String Cheese, and I've been sitting in ever since (laughs).
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At that point, I'm assuming the band was just Billy (Nershi), (Michael) Travis, Keith (Moseley), and (Michael) Kang?
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Kyle: Yes. They were just newly formed. I joined the band in 1998, and they had just started a few years priors. The band had relocated from the Crestview/Telluride area to Boulder. There was definitely a buzz about them, but they were still pretty new to the scene. It was mainly Dave Watts, the drummer from The Motet. He and I were playing in a band together, and Kang came and sat in. He invited me to come check out his band (String Cheese). I was like, "What kind of name is that? Who names a band The String Cheese Incident. I don't know if I can join a band with a name like that." (laughs)
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I think everyone who has ever heard the band name has had that initial reaction...to some extent. (laughs)
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Kyle: Exactly. 
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Well things must have really taken off quickly from there. You guys released the Carnival album in 1999, right?
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Kyle: Right. So yeah, I believe I joined in 1998. They had only been a band for a handful of years at this point. Carnival '99 came out, and the funny thing about that time is that I was listening to Bela Fleck's Flight of the Cosmic Hippo and Spin Doctors, and the HORDE Tour comes around. HORDE stood for "horizons of rock developing everywhere." Bela was on that, and he had a great keyboard player named Hank Levy in that band. By Carnival '99, we were going to festivals and meeting these people that I thought I could be playing with. I had this vision of wanting to play with these guys. It moved very quickly, as you said. All of the sudden, by 1999, I was actually hanging out with people, even the Grateful Dead guys, and I'm just like, "What?! I guess this was the right choice. Forget Forestry!" (laughs).
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Watch Kyle Hollingsworth's new cover of Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" here:
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Wow. Yeah, I can imagine how exciting and even overwhelming that was at the time. You were clearly a major reason why the band continued to progress. Not to get too off topic here, but I wanted to at least touch on the band's relationship with Keller Williams. I basically discovered Cheese and Keller around the same time (2001-2002), and I know the roots run deep there. How did that relationship ultimately come together? 
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Kyle: Yeah, so Keller is a Virginia guy, and I think he had seen the band before. He may have been a fan, to some degree. I'm trying to think of the very first person he met. Maybe Keith or Travis? One of those guys. It's just one of those things. We've known him for so long. It's hard to remember the origin story. I'm curious to hear what he would have to say. He would follow us around, and at some point, we saw how well he played and wrote, so we invited him to start opening for us. He started opening all of our shows all over the country. It just started growing and growing for him. He has great ambition, so he asked us to record an album (Breathe) with him. He brought us all of the songs with all of his tricky chord changes, and it was really a whole lot of fun.
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I remember seeing him sit in on Evolution DVD and have always loved the Breathe album. It was a really neat thing to witness the camaraderie between you guys as a young music fan. One other random question I have is regarding Robert Hunter. I know you had a chance to do some writing with him at some point. Can you elaborate on that?
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Kyle: Yes I did. I did a tune called "45th of November" with him. So, you know, there's always been that West Coast vs. East Coast thing. Not like the whole hip hop rap battle, but when you think of the east coast, you think of Phish and bands that are a little more rockin'. You think Umphrey's...well at least east of the Mississippi. There was also moe. from Buffalo. We were kind of this other group that was a little more exploratory and ok with open spaces. Willing to take dives into beautiful sounds and a little less heavy.
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So, The Grateful Dead was in a similar camp to us.  We were more West Coast in that way. We started connecting with those guys, almost immediately. Mountain Girl, John Barlow, and all of those folks were kind of gravitating to us being a similar vibe to the Dead. This is somewhere during the 1999-2002 era. So then, through that, Barlow started writing some stuff with Kang and Billy. Robert (Hunter) had reached out, because he had heard about us, and asked if anyone wanted to write. I immediately put my hand up and said, "I got this." 
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I definitely tried to write this song in a way that the Grateful Dead would've written something to kind of connect with him. It has this middle section that's kind of like "The Other One," so he was all about it. The connection was very unique in the fact that it was all cyber. I met him once backstage at The Greek Theatre, I think. He asked me to send him an mp3, so I did, and he sent me back the lyrics. I said, "Well, I can try to sing like this. This word is a little weird. Can I change it?" He said, "No. All of the words are perfect. You just need to change how you're singing it." (laughs)
 
So I said, "Ok. That's fair. You've written tons of incredible songs." He then said "How about this? At 1:30, you sing this line. Then at 1:36, you sing you can sing the next word." It was very specific, and I got it, but it wasn't a collab in the traditional sense of going back and forth.
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I guess that's not entirely shocking to hear. "45th of November" was released on One Step Closer in 2005, right?
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Kyle: Correct.
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Listen to The String Cheese Incident's "45th of November" here:
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Let's shift our focus and touch on what this past year has been like for you. You guys grind so hard with touring and festivals throughout the year. Ironically, you released a new EP called 2020 about a month before the world shut down. What was the realization like for you as life as we know it was put on hold? 
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Kyle: That was my fourth solo release. In hindsight, I probably should've called it 2021. So, yeah...I had a whole bunch of things on the books. I had dates with my band. I had some stuff with Everyone Orchestra. The funny thing is that we had just hit 25 years of String Cheese. We stopped in December of 2019, because we wanted to take a break for six months. I was already prepared for at least a little bit of a break. I planned on taking classical piano lessons and doing all kinds of personal stuff during my break.
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To answer your question though, for the first few months, I was still being really creative. I was finding ways to get to my musical outlet through virtual lessons and even picking up a different instrument. I was playing the ukulele. Just diving into some growing things. I thought about doing some music for television. As it wore on, the spark started dimming by June or so. You see Trey (Anastasio) putting out like three albums. I was like, "Well, that could've been me if I kept my spirit up" (laughs). Towards the end, I was kind of getting dragged down a bit. It's gotten better in recent months, but for a while, I was down about it. 
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The cool thing is that about halfway through the summer, my solo band started playing some outdoor shows. The performance alone can really invigorate you. Never mind that there are only 150 people there versus 3000 people. You're just psyched to be playing on stage in front of people. That really gave me a breath of new life. But yeah, it was a tricky time to release a new album. I know there are thousands of other musicians who released albums in 2020. It was supposed to be a great year. 2020! New birth! 
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No kidding. I know it's a little trickier when it comes to String Cheese. You've got such a massive, dedicated fan base. It's damn near impossible to pull off a socially distanced show with a band of this magnitude, and why would you even try if it could put anyone in harm's way? How has the band continued to stay engaged and interact with each other?
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Kyle: Two things about that. The funny thing is that my solo band has been able to play many of the venues String Cheese would normally play, like Dillon Amphitheatre. It's really ironic that I've gotten to play so many of these same venues, with the exception of Red Rocks, to about hundred people with my band. As far as the connection, I've been able to consistently get together with Keith and Jason, especially over the last few months. We've been doing some writing, and Jason is a really great teacher. We've been working on rhythm lessons and improvisational stuff. Kang lives in California, and Travis is in upstate New York. It's been challenging to get everyone in one place.
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Everyone's been immersed in their family life, and of course traveling on planes has been a risk. Billy has been spending most of his time in Hawaii. So, whoever is around locally has been getting together. Jason has a place here in Boulder, and he visits about once a month. Keith and I get together every week. We're actually getting together tomorrow. It's more about writing, but also just hanging out and being a brother again. 
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With String Cheese, I think the big thing for us, which is difficult for me at times, we want to make sure what we come out with is the best possible quality. We were a little hesitant to play random drive-ins. We might play one, but we want to make sure the social distancing isn't an awkward thing for everyone. We'd rather not go to Red Rocks and play for 150 people. We'd rather wait til Red Rocks can be at least half full, so we can really bring the energy and the spirit. So for me, there have been times where I was ready to get out and do it. Collectively, we would rather wait until we can do it right, which I respect. 
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Stream Kyle Hollingsworth's EP 2020 here:
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As a fan, I respect that as well. I know there is tremendous pressure from the fans, as the band's touring schedule plays such a major role in so many people's lives. You guys have worked your asses off to get to this point in your career. We have to respect the decision you guys have made to wait this thing out and get back to it when things can be done right.
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Kyle: Ok, good. That's really great to hear you say, and it makes sense to me too. It's just a matter of time before we can all get together again. In the meantime, we're just doing everything we can to be prepared for that time.
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I almost forgot to ask: how's the brewing going? I'm guessing you've had plenty of time work on your other hobbies as well.
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Kyle: The funny thing is that I really haven't been brewing much at all. That doesn't mean I'm drinking less beer though. I did make one. I have a solo show coming up on Sunday, March 7th at The Boulder Theater. It's my first solo show since summer. Everyone will be able to tune into the stream. My birthday is this week, so it's my birthday show, and I decided to make a beer with ska. I wanted to go for a bit of an old school West Coast IPA. A lot of people are doing hazys right now, but I wanted to try something more traditional. Something with a dry hop, but also a little bit of bittering. 
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We'll see how it goes. Making beer and making music, you kind of jump in with both feet, and you're never quite sure how it's going to come out. The yeast is going to do what it's going to do, and then it's going to be great, or it's like the best solo you've ever taken, or the worst beer you've ever made. The point being that you should just go for it. It's a lot of fun. I'm going to try it tomorrow for my birthday. The idea was to have a beer that people could go to and watch the live streams. You go get your growler, join me, and I'll drink a beer with everyone online. It will be available for those who get to attend the show as well. 
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Amazing. Well, let me be the first to go ahead and say "Happy Birthday." I can't thank you enough for taking the time to chat with me today. I hope the Sunday shows make for a great birthday celebration, and I can't wait to finally get a chance to see you and the band play again before too long.
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Kyle: Thanks so much Jordan. My pleasure.
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Sexbruise? Discusses New EP 'COVID-69' February 25, 2021 13:58

Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

Photo via Sexbruise? 

Live & Listen's core purpose has always been to serve as a platform for unique, up-and-coming acts, and that's exactly what we have for you today. In case you were wondering, Sexbruise? is a satirical desktoptronica/pop band from Charleston, SC that combines elements of improvisation, electronic music, poppy hooks, and audience participation to create an unforgettable live experience. Just two weeks ago, the band released their second full length EP, COVID-69, which is available on all major streaming platforms. We recently sat down with band members John Pope and Julie Slonecki to learn more about one of the more fascinating groups we've discovered in recent memory.

It's great to have a chance to chat with y'all today. I've spent some time listening to the new EP this week, and I'm loving every minute of it.

John: Yeah, it's a subtle nod to the time that we're living in. So like, COVID-69 is just a reference to this virus that was really big in 2020. It was called COVID-19. A lot of people don't catch that. It's kind of subtle. 

No kidding. I didn't catch that until now. So, I was hoping we could start off with some general background on Sexbruise? How did you guys get started on this wondrous journey?

John: The band started as a joke, primarily. It was just a name on a flyer, right? Our friend, Stratton, has this birthday party every year. He put "Sexbruise?" on the flyer. He was like, "It's a cool band name. It has a question mark. We'll just get a bunch of laptops and act like we're doing stuff." So that was our first show. We wrote about six or seven songs in one day. We played those songs and decided to keep rolling with it. 

Amazing. So, the band came together for this birthday party, and all of the sudden, you're working with a handful of originals and a little momentum. How did things progress from there?

Julie: Well, not long after that first show, we actually nominated ourselves for Electronic Band of the Year. We had only played that one show, and maybe one more, and somehow, we actually won that award. At this time, it was hysterical. But yeah, I think we noticed how well everyone responded to it, and how much fun we had doing it. It was just one of the most fun and ridiculous things any of us had been a part of, so we just decided to keep going and see where we ended up with it. 

That's amazing to get that type of recognition early on. That had to be reassuring. 

Julie: Yeah, absolutely. At the time, I think we didn't really know what to make of it, except that it was perfect for our whole "schtick." But yeah, it really just took off from there.

John: So since then, we got very popular very quickly. Overnight, we had around 7000 likes on our Facebook page, which were all real. We stand by that. We started getting more offers to play festivals over the last few years. Rooster Walk last year. Obviously, all of the festivals in 2020 were cancelled. We're hoping for the best for this summer.

No kidding. How is y'all's calendar shaping up thus far? I know there is obviously so much that remains to be seen. 

John: Well, we had to cancel our Madison Square Garden run, which was a bummer. Red Rocks, also cancelled. We had a couple of dates with Phish opening for us, but those bigger shows just can't really happen yet. We're more confined to small spaces like the Charleston Pour House and Safe Sounds, which is part of Firefly Distillery. So, you know, we're staying kind of busy on a local level, but some of those bigger shows, that were totally real, are not happening anymore.

Julie: We are slated for FloydFest, if that is able to happen this summer. Like you said, a lot remains to be seen in the coming months.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed. We're all hoping for a return to normalcy, especially when it comes to live music. I know it's been especially brutal on the music industry. Something's got to give. Hopefully as these vaccinations continue to roll out, we'll be in a better position to get back to it.

John: Yeah, that's kind of the message of our new EP, COVID-69. Number one, we want to bring everyone together. We want to get everyone in a headspace of, "This is a tough time that we're in, but we can still have fun." 

I'm glad you said that. I wanted to transition over to the EP, which was just released a few weeks ago (January 29th). As you've mentioned, there is a bit of a common theme with these five tracks. How did this concept come together? 

John: I think from a creative standpoint, it was very hard to think about anything else for a long time. Or talk about anything else, for that matter. 

Julie: We actually got together for what would have been more of a rehearsal. As usual, we got completely sidetracked and started writing some songs. Before we knew it, we probably wrote four out of the five tracks in just a few hours. This kind of our "m.o." where we have these big spurts of creativity. We just got on a roll, and you know, I think we thought these would be really relatable tunes. We weren't really thinking about anything else.

Stream the new EP, COVID-69, via Spotify here:

That's amazing. I'm always blown away when I hear musicians talk about these writing sessions, or rehearsals turned writing sessions, where five to ten songs are written in one day. How does the writing process work for you guys? I'm sure it's a unique and entertaining experience.

Julie: I'd say that the idea usually just comes from us goofing around and talking. Someone will say something that's pretty funny, and one of us will just run with it and start improvising it. Everyone follows that lead, and before you know it, we've written a song called "We Don't Have The Virus."

John: I think that we were just chanting "We Don't Have The Virus." This was the first time that we had really seen each other in person for a month or two. We felt like anyone who didn't have the virus should be excited. 

I'd say that's fair game for celebration.

Julie: The song also, I think, works when the virus does magically go away. Whenever that is, I think this will be a great celebratory song for everyone. At long last, we do not have the virus.

John: I agree with you, Julie.

Hopefully this EP will be a reminder of what it was like living through this strange and concerning time. Something we can put behind us before too long.

Julie: I am hoping that we get featured maybe in history books or Wikipedia articles, just as a memento to the virus. You know, kind of use our whole themed EP here for sort of a guide for what happened in 2020. How people were handling it, and I think if anything, that would be a great legacy.

John: Julie, I can guarantee that we can get on Wikipedia. It's just a matter of how long before people remove our entries.

Julie: This is true.

John: Because that has happened very quickly whenever I add Sexbruise? to Wikipedia articles.

Tell me about when it came time to get in the studio and nail all of this down. I know you've released quite a few singles over the years. Was this the first multi-track release?

Julie: We've released one other full-length EP that went platinum. That was exciting. It's called Real Gold, and that was about two years ago. We got a lot of success from that, and we're now working with our sophomore album, if you will. We've also released singles throughout the years, as well. 

John: We're sort of hoping that this one doesn't blow up as much. Just because it's a hassle having a bunch of fans, fame, and money. It's just not for us, you know? We've kind of been there, done that. We're going low key with this one... putting it out on Spotify.

Julie: Just trying to stay humble. But yeah, the recording process is unique. We do all of our own recording in house. We all tag team it. John and I both do arranging and recording in our home studios. I did a lot of the mixing and mastering for this one. We've done all of our previous releases in house as a team effort. We're really lucky that we're multi-talented like that. But you know, like anything, life and motivation can delay things. We did still get this album out while the album was relevant. We were concerned about that.

John: Yeah. We were really hoping that the virus would stick around long enough for us to get this album out. 

Julie: There was some worry that it would disappear and be over, and no one would care about the virus anymore. 

Watch Sexbruise?'s new music video "WDHTV" here:

That's incredible to have the ability to do all of the recording, mixing, and mastering in house. I know you guys did not have too many opportunities to work, sell tickets, generate revenue in 2020. The expenses of studio time, engineering, and releasing a new album add up quickly. I'm sure it is even more rewarding to produce everything yourselves. 

Julie: It's good. It's slightly maddening. You write the songs, and you have to do all of the work to them. By the end of it, you really know the songs. Very intimately acquainted. We're very lucky in that regard. 

John: Actually Julie, I would say luck has nothing to do with it.

Julie: That's true. We definitely are not lucky. 

John: Well put, Julie.

Julie: Thank you. I thought I had more there, but I didn't come up with anything.

Well, before we wrap this up, I wanted to hear more about the live Sexbruise? experience. Just through following you guys on social media and hearing from friends in Charleston, I've picked up on the fact that it's a show like no other. Not your typical concert experience. I was hoping you could elaborate on what people can expect. 

John: So, we try to push the boundaries on what bands can do in a live setting. We prepare a lot of food on stage. We make pancakes, but we've also made plenty of grilled cheeses and tuna melts. We throw snacks at the crowd. We've served champagne and pina coladas. I know it sounds like I'm just describing a lot of different types of food, but there's also music, as well. We do a lot of crowd participation. Pull people out of the crowd and make up a song about them on the spot. Plenty of improvisation. 

Julie: In the pre-COVID days, there was a lot of crowd interaction, which has forced us to readjust how we do things, for the time being. In times past, we did a lot of things off stage. Dancing with the crowd, creating dance-offs, handing out snacks personally. All kinds of shenanigans. We're definitely aching to get back to that, whenever it's deemed safe. We're still coming up with all new, inventive ways to handle that. We have a snack launcher, a snack drone, a snack pole. Most of these are snack related, but I think you get the idea.

John: We also incorporate a lot of live visuals into the show. We have projections by our friend Joel Schooling. I'll plug Joel real quick. Why not? So, that adds a lot to the show, from a visual standpoint. 

Julie: We just try to come up with new shenanigans every time. Keep things fresh, so people never see the same show twice. That's a huge part of it for us. We just brainstorm on these ideas, and we don't put any type of limitations on what we can do with that. No bad ideas, you know?

I think it's safe to say that you're providing a unique experience for anyone in attendance. Engaging the crowds like few, if any others, have in the past. It's been a blast chatting with both of y'all today. I appreciate your time, and I sure hope to have an opportunity to have a proper Sexbruise? experience in the near future.

John: Absolutely. We enjoyed it too. Thank you, Jordan!

Julie: Thanks, Jordan!


The Wild Feathers Prepare for Birmingham's Avondale Brewery November 6, 2020 17:22

Photo by Rachel Moore

Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

Nashville's The Wild Feathers are gearing up for a big return to Avondale Brewing Company on Friday, November 13th. This band is certainly no stranger to the Birmingham, as their extensive history has led them to just about every stage the city has to offer over the past ten years. This particular show is presented by none other than Big Friendly Productions, so you can rest assured that this will be a top notch occasion in every aspect. 

Having shared the stage with musical icons such as Paul Simon, Willie Nelson, and Bob Segar, The Wild Feathers are guaranteed to deliver a dynamic performance for the Birmingham faithful. With indoor shows being few and far between, as well as cold weather right around the corner, music fans don't want to miss this opportunity for one more outdoor show.

As we look ahead this one, we caught up with Joel King (bass/vocals) to learn a little more about how the band has been fighting their way through the pandemic, a new album due out later this month, and much more. Check out the full conversation below, and make sure to click here to secure your tickets while supplies last.

Share this article directly from the Live & Listen Facebook page + tag a friend in the comments for a chance to win a pair of tickets to this show. We will announce the winner at 10AM on Thursday, November 12.

Let's start off with some general background info on the band. You guys have been at it for about ten years now, right?
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Joel: Yeah. We've been on the streets for about ten years. Well, we started around 2010 with me, Ricky (Young), and Taylor (Burns) writing a lot of the songs that came out on the first record. We kind of got together just to write songs and see if we could do this thing. You know, multiple singers, kind of like The Band or Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young. It's progressed from there, and the band has definitely evolved. The sound has changed a little here and there, but it's pretty much all rock and roll.
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Very cool. So, you got started in 2010. You guys are based out of Nashville, right?
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Joel: Yeah.
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Was it soon thereafter that the band started expanding beyond the Nashville scene and hitting all of the Southeastern markets?
 
Joel: Yeah man. When we first started, we had a production deal in LA. So, we flew out there and cut a bunch of songs. We get back here, and decide we aren't going to tour like we did with our old bands. I'll be damned if that's exactly what we did. (laughs). Our booking agent gave us some really great advice to do a residency tour. Every Monday, we played Memphis. On Tuesday, we were in Nashville. Wednesday would be Birmingham. I think we played The Nick about 1000 times. Thursday would be Atlanta.
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We had a routine where we did it for a little over a month. We were playing every day of the week with maybe one day off. We did this residency tour for a month or so, just to be out there. Playing as much as we could. That was really when we started "touring" a lot. We did some runs here and there, but once we did that, things started happening.
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We got on a few other awesome tours, and the rest is history. Paul Simon asked us to come open for him for maybe six or seven dates. That was a real dream come true. After that, we signed a record deal and all of that other stuff.
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Wow. What point in time were the Paul Simon shows?
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Joel: I think that was 2012? It was 2011 or 2012. I can't remember which. It was one of the two.
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I can only imagine how big of a deal that was.
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Joel: Oh yeah, man. It was pretty crazy. That was obviously a major boost. We had to price match our CDs with his. We only had a four-song EP, which we recorded ourselves, at the time. We had to sell them for like $20, because that's what he sold his albums for. (laughs). And ours were burned CDs from our own computer. So, it was pretty interesting. It really set us on course though.
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We ended up playing with so many legacies. We played a bunch of times with Willie (Nelson), Bob Dylan, and as of last year, the last tour we did was with Bob Segar about a year ago. So, we've kind of been in that legacy mode ever since the beginning. Maybe that's because it's a throwback sound or whatever. I don't really want to call it a throwback. I'd probably call it a "bring back." It's just guitars, drums, singing, and what I call "regular music." (laughs).
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Well, you guys were obviously doing something right from the get go. Finding yourselves in an opportunity to support so many long-standing musical icons. Not many bands can say that. That's amazing.
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Joel: Oh yeah, man. We got to meet many of our heroes.
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I wanted to ask you specifically about this year. It's obviously been a tremendous challenge for all of us, with the music industry being no exception. Tell me about where you guys were and how did COVID-19 affect the band early on. How have you managed to navigate through it thus far?
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Joel: At the time, we weren't really doing much. We were planning the "Spirit of the South" tour with Blackberry Smoke, The Allman Betts Band, and a few others. There was gonna be a big jam at the end. It was gonna be a really cool, amphitheater-type tour. Even The Big House in Macon was planning to have a museum exhibit. It was shaping up to be a big, summer-long tour.It was scheduled for about two months. We were so stoked to do that. It was going to be a whole bunch of fun.
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We were doing some recording and a bunch of other prep stuff when COVID hit. We couldn't really go in the studio and weren't really trying to be around anyone, so that's when we decided to compile the rarities and B-sides record. The tour got rescheduled for 2021, so it's still going to happen. We had contemplated this record for a long time. We're no longer with Warner Brothers, so we kind of do whatever we want, which is really great. For each record, we'll write 30 or 40 songs and narrow it down to 15 or 16. Then, we end up cutting and releasing maybe 12.
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So, we have a few extra for placements and all of that. Every record has a couple of extra songs. We have a few of the covers we have done. We have maybe three songs that we had already done in the studio and produced ourselves. We decided we could put a cap on this, ten years in, and call it Medium Rarities. It's kind of like of Nirvana has Incesticide. Every band tends to have "that record," with a lot of B-sides.
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We decided, "why not us?" That's kind of how we remedied the COVID situation. We knew we needed to release something, but we couldn't really get in to record. We could have probably started recording, but we wouldn't have been ready to release it by now. So, we got everything mastered and put the whole package together. It was pretty cool to see it come together.
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The first track is from 2010, when we recorded a demo for Interscope Records, which signed us and dropped us within six months. That was a cover of "Blue" by The Jayhawks. That's one of our favorite songs. We recorded it at Sound City Studios out in Los Angeles. It was awesome, but we never had a chance to release it. We got to a point where it felt like it was too old.
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Until the rarities thing came along. We thought it was kind of cool for everyone to hear all of this unreleased stuff. Some friends of ours asked us, "Why didn't you just release this as a regular record?" We like to make records that flow and have an identity. We felt like we should preface it by calling it Medium Rarities.
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Listen to The Wild Feather's latest single, "My Truth," here:
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What a neat way to dig back in the archives and find a way to utilize material that already existed that just hadn't found its way out to public yet.
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Joel: It's kind of like doing your homework early. You have all of the songs in the back of your head, and you felt like they were good. It's not like the B-sides were crappy tunes. Actually, it's because if we have two or three songs that sound similar, in the same meter, we'll end up going with the ones that fit with the flow of the record.
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With this record, it's not like, "Well, here's the crappiest songs we've got." We're pretty proud of them.It's nice to finish them and get them out, because they're always in the back of your mind. "We should release that one day." And then, you just never do it. You know? That's been a pretty cool sense of accomplishment.
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I'm sure. You've got to find some silver linings somewhere during such a challenging year. It seems like 2020 provided the proper avenue to finally share this music with the world.
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Joel: Absolutely. We're trying to look at the bright side there. Also, before this, we never thought anyone could take away our ability to play live. We thought, "We'll always be able to play live." Then all of this happens and just like that, the live show is gone. It'll be back though.
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It will be back. It's been great to see certain outdoor venues adapt for socially distanced shows. On that note, you guys obviously have a show coming up at Birmingham's Avondale Brewing Company on Friday, November 13th. They're really doing a phenomenal job of creating a safe environment for artists and fans alike. It's definitely a reduced capacity, but it's allowing so many people the chance to work again.
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Joel: Oh, I know, man. That's a blessing. The Blackberry Smoke guys took us out for a run of shows a few weeks ago. Most of them were ballparks with spray painted circles and all of that. I'll take anything. If I saw some people at the park, I'd be ok with setting up and playing, as long as everyone is spread out and doing their thing. It's not like Beatlemania when we play (laughs).
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Speaking of the Birmingham show, I know you mentioned playing The Nick early on. I was curious to hear more about the band's history in the market.
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Joel: Birmingham has been great to us. I think last time we played Saturn, which is an amazing venue. That place is great. We've played Avondale two or three times, which was awesome. Weather permitting, always. We've also played Iron City and WorkPlay. We've really played all over Birmingham. It's also so close to home. We always joke that we never get to stay in Birmingham and hang out. We're always headed to the next city, or it's the day before we're getting home to Nashville. They've got Hattie B's down there too now. (laughs).
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That's true. The city has really blown up in recent years. The music scene is really thriving. They have some of the best restaurants in the southeast. While this year has been especially tough on the entertainment and hospitality industries, we just have to remain confident that we'll all get through it on the other side.
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Joel: Yeah I know. One thing about it is that some bands don't want to take the risk of playing any shows at all, while others aren't as concerned. We're just evaluating each opportunity as we get them. Once it gets too cold to play outside, packing into a venue just isn't an option right now. We've got to play these socially distant, outdoor shows while we can.
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That's a great point. We're getting close to that point. Before we wrap up, I was hoping you could share what's on the horizon for the band, aside from the new album and the rescheduled tour dates.
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Joel: I think what we're gonna do during all of this off time is haul up in a cabin and record a record out there. Just totally vibe out and make a vibey record. I think all of our records have been very well thought out. We usually go out to a cabin beforehand, hammer out all of the details, then head to a studio. We're thinking, since we don't have anywhere to be, maybe we'll just get a whole bunch of recording gear, head out to a cabin, capture a bunch of video footage, and make a record while we have the time. Gotta live the dream.
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That sounds like a great idea. Put yourself in the right atmosphere and tap into those creative channels. See what happens.
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Joel: That's right. Let ourselves be positive and productive with all of the rigamarole going on. (laughs)
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Tom Galloway Releases Sophomore Album 'Rearview' October 20, 2020 14:17

Nashville, TN (October 16th, 2020) - Americana rocker and singer/songwriter, Tom Galloway, just released his second solo effort entitled, “Rearview.” The 6 song EP features previously released singles from this year as well as brand new songs “Let it Play,” “Rearview,” & “Lazy Days.” The album flows intentionally well from start to finish and shows strong diversity of his songwriting, both in lyrics and composition. With a powerful band, empathetic lyrics, and unique vocals and harmonies, this record maintains both a refreshing yet timeless vibe. Recorded at Southern Ground Studios in Nashville, the record also includes special guests from Moon Taxi, LadyCouch, CBDB, & Sicard Hollow.

“This album was such a pleasure to create. In retrospect, I believe the overall theme of this record deals with the destructive and redemptive aspects of love, both gained and lost, as well as the importance of self-worth and forward positive motion. It’s tempting to look back in the rearview at memories and illusions of the past, but focusing on the present and the road ahead is the answer.”

Stream Tom Galloway's new album 'Rearview' here:

About Tom Galloway:

Born in Georgia, raised in Texas, and currently writing songs in Nashville, TN, Galloway combines roots of Americana, country, and rock, to form a unique blend of expression and storytelling. Developing his craft for years, strong hooks, captivating lyrics, and compelling music have been his mission. Since 2008, he has toured the country extensively as the principal songwriter and front man for the rock bands Mama’s Love, Maradeen, and Stampede. He released his debut solo record, Cross Currents, in 2018. Now with his sophomore record set to release he continues to perform, record, and strive for timeless music.

For more information, visit www.tomgalloway.net and connect with Tom on Facebook, Instagram, and Spotify.

Recent Press:

"A darker strand of country music...Galloway's voice is warm and smooth, but the timbre is even lovelier when sung in harmony. Galloway clearly has his own take on country/bluegrass, and we're here for it" - The Deli Magazine

"Galloway has been a staple in the southeastern music scene over the past decade. While many know Galloway as the frontman of rock bands Mama's Love and Maradeen, his latest work portrays a fresh yet diverse look into the artist's catalog...Combining the sounds of americana, alt-country, and southern rock, Cross Currents provides a tasteful blend of nostalgic, conspicuous tracks that make for an excellent listen from start to finish" - Live & Listen

"The music sounds free, open and vast...Rock oriented but steeped heavily in Americana... Take for instance the opener 'Wild Bird'...The song is simultaneously warm, nostalgic and joyful." - Divide & Conquer

"Drawing from the penmanship of writers such as Robert Hunter, I look forward to witnessing the growth of this songwriter" -Flagpole Magazine

"Right away you sense the comfort of a southern twang without being overbearingly country...mixed with creative riffs and poetic lyrics" - BreakThru Radio

"Good melodies with smooth, yet smoky vocals" - Music News Nashville


Big Something's Nick MacDaniels Discusses New Album & COVID-19 October 8, 2020 12:29

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Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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North Carolina-based jam rockers Big Something are gearing up for the release of their sixth studio album, Escape, on Friday, October 9th. Produced by John Custer and the band at Ovation Sound in Winston-Salem, ‘Escape’ showcases the evolution of the band’s signature sound and their diverse range of songs. In a year of unmeasured uncertainty, this release calls for an extra dose of celebration, and we couldn't be happier to help shine a light. 
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To celebrate the release of the new record, Big Something will premiere a video album listening party on Thursday October 8th followed by a FREE multi-cam virtual concert on Friday October 9th that will air across multiple platforms including Live & Listen, NUGS TV, Live for Live Music, YouTube and more.
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Earlier this week, we caught up with Nick MacDaniels (guitar/vocals) to discuss all of the details on Escape, how the band continues to navigate  through the COVID-19 pandemic, and everything in between. See below for the full conversation, and make sure to head to the band's official store to order your copy today.
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This has obviously been a crazy year. From what I recall, Big Something had just wrapped up the Royal Rumble tour with Andy Frasco when everything started to cancel. Tell me about how that time period played out for the band.
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Nick: We had just gotten home, and that's when everything first started happening. So luckily for us, we were able to finish that tour. And that was one of the most fun and most successful tours we've ever had, so it was really crazy to go from that right into quarantine a couple weeks later. We had so many friends that were still on the road, and then had to cancel everything. It sounded like a nightmare. We were pretty lucky actually, but it was still super disappointing. This was shaping up to be a huge year for us. We were so excited for our first time at Bonnaroo, our annual festival, The Big What?, and so many other awesome shows we had lined up.  
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The new album was actually ready to go too and we planned on releasing it much earlier, but once everything shut down we decided to wait to release it until we could tour again. Then we slowly realized we might not be able to tour again anytime soon so it gave us something to focus on and look forward to while touring isn't an option. 
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I can only imagine how disappointing that was. I know it's been years since you had this much time off of the road. What has life been like for you and the band? How have you been occupying all of this new found time?
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Nick: It kind of happened in phases. I think it's been that way for a lot of people. Initially, it was a lot of down time at home, which was nice. We spent so much time on the road before all this that home life kind of fell by the wayside. It was great to spend more time with my girlfriend and our cat Teddy who gradually became famous during our live streams (lol). It was also fun having one band member at a time come over for our "live from the living room" sessions. It's been different, for sure. We've had to adjust to this new frontier, but it's also allowed us to learn new things and focus on some stuff we don't normally have time for. 
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I'm glad to hear there have been some silver linings. Tell me about the recent live stream series, Escape from the Living Room, which wraps up in correlation with the album release on Friday. 
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Nick: Well once we realized we wouldn't be able to tour we decided to make the recording studio our homebase for writing music and hosting live streams. Our good friend Bill Stevens at Ovation Sound was super awesome about letting us come in and pretty much take over his studio for months. And it was really nice to have a creative space to call home during all this craziness. Our last show in front of people was in February and our first practice together after that was at the end of July so that was the longest we'd ever gone without playing together by far.
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Our first practice in July was pretty funny too. We would all start playing the songs and then forget which parts were coming up next. We train wrecked so many times (laughs). It was kinda like learning how to walk again, and even though it took us a little while to get our musical chops back, I feel like everyone has really stepped up and taken things to the next level while we've been at home. Jesse has been on fire during these streams. It's really been inspiring to see all of the guys putting in the extra work. It's been very therapeutic for us to have this extra time to just focus on the music. 
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As far as our live stream series goes, we saw a lot of bands doing pay-per-view streams, where people have to pay to watch. That was honestly the last thing we wanted to do during a pandemic. We wanted anyone who wanted to watch to be able to watch, but we also had to figure out a way to pay our crew and cover all the production expenses. So, it was kind of a risk making ours free to watch, but I love how it turned out.  Everyone has been super supportive with their donations, and for us, the main thing we wanted was to be able to keep playing music in a safe way, and to make it accessible for anyone who needs live music in their life right now. 
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Check out Big Something's official video for "Dangerous" here:
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That's a great mentality to have, especially considering how hard you guys have been hit. Let's talk a little bit about Escape, which is scheduled for release on Friday, October 9th.
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Nick: This was a really fun album to make and also really helped us grow as a band. We started recording last summer, long before the pandemic started happening. We had the album title, Escape, already picked out. All of the songs are kind of related to that theme in one way or another. It's a concept that can be interpreted in a lot of different ways. Sometimes positive; you're escaping from things that are holding you down or holding you back. Sometimes negative; escaping from reality in a way that's not healthy. That was the inspiration behind the album concept, then the pandemic hits and 2020 turns into what feels like the apocalypse at times, and the album title kind of takes on a whole new meaning. 
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It was also our first album since our lyricist, Paul Interdonato, passed away. So that was very difficult, but also kind of therapeutic for me. A lot of these songs are the first ones I tried to write or finish without him, and it took me a really long time to get to a point where I could do that. The last song we ever wrote together, "Machines," is on there so the whole project definitely has a special place in my heart.
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I would imagine so. Over the last month or so, you've released four singles from the album. We've had a chance to hear "Heavy," "Dangerous," "Time Bomb," and "The Breakers." Will there be any material that has not been played during the recent streams?”
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Nick: I think there are a couple that our fans haven't heard yet. One of them is a reprise of "Heavy," which is basically a funky demo version of that song. Josh (Kagel) also wrote a meditational interlude that we haven't played live yet. We'll be performing all of this at our virtual album release show on Friday for the first time ever. 
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So, this Friday wraps up the Escape from The Living Room series. Everyone will have a chance to keep the new album in heavy rotation. How do you see the rest of this year and 2021 panning out? There is obviously a lot of uncertainty surrounding the immediate future of touring. 
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Nick: I would say that the whole experience of this year has been really inspiring. Through all the ups and downs, there is a lot of inspiration that can be drawn from what's going on in the world right now. Personally, I'd like to focus on taking some of that and incorporating it into more new music. We still have no idea when we're going to be able to tour again. We have some fun plans for a virtual Halloween show. We're looking into doing our first drive in shows. 
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We've been really skeptical about playing in front of audiences. The information out there is always changing. We really want to focus on keeping everyone safe and out of unnecessary harm. That's the general idea. As things change, we'll certainly roll with the punches. We're in a good place right now, and we'll continue to stay flexible with what's going on. 
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Before we wrap this up, I did want to ask you about the passing of Eddie Van Halen yesterday. Tell me about the impact and influence that he made on you as guitarist. 
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Nick: I honestly didn't get into Van Halen until I was a little bit older. I was actually just listening to Van Halen 'One' on vinyl the other day. He's had such a huge impact on guitarists and rock n roll music in general that it's hard to put into words. Trey Anastasio's post earlier today really summed it up perfectly. He's just one of those guitar gods. It seemed so effortless for him. Guitar was an extension of his person. That kind of larger than life musicianship is always super inspiring. We've lost so many great musicians throughout this year. Toots (Hibbert), John Prine, and Bill Withers...those all hit me pretty hard too. It's been such a crazy year, but it's been great to see so many people celebrate and honor their musical legacy. 
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That's the truth. Well, it's been great chatting with you today. As a big fan of the band, I couldn't be happier to see you guys continuing to adapt throughout such a difficult year. There are so many of us pulling for you guys, and we will certainly be ready when the band is able to hit the stage again. 
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Nick: Thanks so much, Jordan. I look forward to the day when we can put on a show together again! Hopefully soon. We appreciate you and everything you do. Cheers man. 
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Winston Ramble & Little Raine Band Return to Avondale on Friday June 17, 2020 22:49

Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography

Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

Share this article and tag a friend in the comments of our Facebook post for a chance to win a pair of tickets to this show!

The past three months have presented the music industry with a tremendous challenge. As the COVID-19 pandemic became a reality across America, live music was put on hold for the foreseeable future. This unfortunate scenario immediately left artists, booking agents, production companies, and so many others across the entertainment industry out of work. Live streams and archived video footage have become the primary source of any potential revenue, and this industry continues to need our support now more than ever. 

As we have all become accustomed to the "new norm" of a socially distant life, opportunities are beginning to surface for safe and controlled events. One of the first of such will occur this Friday night at Avondale Brewing Company, as local favorites Winston Ramble & Little Raine Band join forces in the heart of Birmingham. In an effort to create the safest possible environment, the venue has reduced capacity to 350 tickets with social distancing guidelines enforced.

Both bands will perform 90-minute sets, with Little Raine Band playing from 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM, and Winston Ramble playing from 8:50 PM - 10:20 PM. The amazing team at Big Friendly Productions is producing this show, which ensures that this will be an incredible experience from start to finish. BFP has worked tirelessly throughout this pandemic to create opportunities for bands to live steam performances and allow fans to get their live music fix from home. If there has ever been a time to show support for your local music scene, that time is now. 

Those wishing to attend are encouraged to purchase their tickets immediately, as less than 100 tickets remain available. This show expected to sell out in advance, so don't wait until it's too late. Click here to learn more and grab your tickets today. 

Earlier this week, we had a chance to catch up with Davis Little (Little Raine Band) and Taylor Goodwin (Winston Ramble) to learn more about the band's perspective on this show. It goes without saying that this is an exciting, special occasion that falls under very unique circumstances. Check out quotes from both artists below, and make sure to RSVP to the official Facebook event page for all of the latest updates on this show.

This show is very much needed. No doubt this has been the longest we’ve gone without playing a show since high school, we’re really itching to play. The date is on Juneteenth, so this is going to be a real fun celebration for Freedom Day & a display of unity within our small community. Our main hope is for everyone to be safe, wear masks, & socially distance. But ultimately have a good time, relax, & enjoy being back in the groove for the moment.
- Davis Little of Little Raine Band
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Honestly it’s just awesome to know that some live music is back on the table again. It’s a thrill to get to be a part of it, and I can’t wait to get back in action.
- Taylor Goodwin of Winston Ramble
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Watch Little Raine Band's official video for "Other Side" here:

Watch Winston Ramble's official video for "Wiser Time" here:

 


Atlanta's Noonday Sons Discuss Latest Studio Releases May 18, 2020 22:33

 

 Interview by Garrett Laurie: Live & Listen

Photo by Charles Warren

With Covid-19 shutting down every notion of attending a live performance, a lot of us are feeling the hurt, but none like the musicians we know and love. If it weren’t for Widespread Panic’s Never Miss A Sunday Show or Phish’s Dinner & A Movie I, for one, would lose it. Luckily there are working musicians that are seizing this opportunity to write and record on their own time. One of these bands is Noonday Sons, an Atlanta-based quintet that released a single that has been racking up streaming numbers on Spotify. Last month I got to sit down with Charles Warren (lead guitar) to chat about their single, “Run It Back” as well as their newest release that is out today, “Dark Hallways.” 

Formed late 2017, Noonday Sons got their start playing college shows across the southeast, as well as in Atlanta. When asked about their originals, Warren notes, “We base our sound around the improvisation we incorporate into our live shows, but we have more of a focus on the songwriting aspect and composition of songs than most jam bands.” Their emphasis on composition is wholly apparent in their debut single, “Run It Back.” The combination of a grungy tone, great groove, and steady rhythm the tune provides a great build which transitions into an expansive jam. 

The single has accrued over 50,000 streams on Spotify alone in a mere three-week span. When asked about the time frame from the release Warren states, “We released the single the second full weekend in "quarantine," March 27th. The combination of everyone being pent up for two weeks, and the fact that we ended up on a few playlists helped our stream count-out. It was good luck.” Producing a product like “Run It Back,” does not happen overnight. It requires a great deal of attention, time, and finding the right space to record. 

The uniqueness is not only in the song itself, but how recording at a friend’s home studio helped the band own their tune. Warren goes onto say, “We recorded at a studio that our friends built out (fellow Atlanta musicians and members of current touring act Frute). They built out a big studio, because two of their band members majored in audio engineering.” Not only did they record a majority of the tune in their home studio, but self-recorded a substantial portion at home before ultimately having it mastered.

Warren elaborates about how home studios are changing the way music is recorded by saying, “…you have the technology that nobody had 20 years ago to go from tapes to digital recording. The ability to build a room within a room, build your studio out the way you like it, then record at your own pace as you talk through the process with the other guys in the studio, is a great experience. It is so relaxed. Home studios have changed the way that music comes out. People release single after single now. It has become an instant process.” He also chimes in on how the relaxed nature of these studios contributes to putting out an overall well-polished product than well-established recording studios across the country. 

When asked about their latest release, “Dark Hallways,” Warren explains that it is a 180-degree turn from their previous release, saying it is, “…not as grungy as it sounds. It'll have more of an Americana sound, with bluegrass and rock undertones. It'll be a completely different sound than "Run it Back." The lighter nature of the track proves this band’s broad range and ability to master a tamer natured track.

Their new release “Dark Hallways” is available as of Thursday, May 14th on all major streaming platforms. After a dark track in “Run It Back,” the brighter track is sure to please. Atlanta friends be sure to check out Noonday Sons at Smith’s Olde Bar after Covid-19 runs its course and things get back to normal.

Special thanks to Madeline Crone & Taylor Dockery for their help with the interview. Check out the pro-shot video for Noonday Sons' “Run It Back” below:

 


CBDB Ventures "Back in Limbo" With Latest Single May 16, 2020 14:03

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Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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While the world of live music remains at a virtual standstill due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, musicians and bands across the globe continue to adapt and explore new creative avenues. While it may be quite some time before we return to what was once the "normal" concert experience, it has been nothing short of inspiring to observe the innovation that so many artists have shown over the past few months.
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Tuscaloosa natives CBDB have been at the forefront of this creative movement; hosting weekly live streams with various band members and always staying engaged with their loyal fan base. On Friday, May 15th, the band released their latest single, "Back in Limbo," which is now available on all major streaming outlets. Along with the single, CBDB called on their fans to help produce a heartfelt, inspiring music video for these troubling times. You can stream "Back in Limbo" via Spotify and watch the full video here in this article.
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We recently had the opportunity to sit down with frontman Cy Simonton to learn more about how the band is coping and adjusting, as well as all of the details on the new tune. Check out the full interview below, and make sure to add "Back in Limbo" to your summer playlist.
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So, you guys have just released your latest single, "Back in Limbo." I figured we could start off by discussing the backstory, the writing process, and any other noteworthy facts.
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Cy: Well, it's a tune that has been on the back burner for a while. We've had the music written for a long time. With Blake (Gallant) and Chris (Potocik) joining the band, writing temporarily took a backseat to everyone getting comfortable with the whole catalogue. The original riff that started the song actually came from Mike (Sinopole), our former bassist. (Kris) Gottlieb wrote the chorus chords. We shifted some time signatures around, found the groove with the new rhythm section, and then I wrote the melody and lyrics. 
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Tell me a little bit about the song itself. Is there a good story or concept behind the lyrics?
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Cy: Yeah, totally. It's about feeling like you're in limbo. Feeling like you're stuck in between and not quite where you want to be. Specifically, it was about the member changeover within the band, and the uncertainty that came with that. It's an experience that we've been through a few times, but it always seems to produce positive results and good vibes. Now with the quarantine, we felt the lyrics were particularly poignant. "Back in Limbo" feels like what everyone is doing currently.
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So we recorded it all in separate locations from home. It started with Potocik recording drums to a live recording. He had the bones of it, and Blake followed with the bass groove. We recorded everything that way.
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That's really neat. I'm guessing you guys have never done anything quite like that...
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Cy: No...that was a very unique recording experience. We've definitely never done it that way.
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Wow. That's amazing. I already loved the track, but knowing that makes it that much more appealing. I would've never guessed you guys were all recording remotely. It has that classic CBDB sound that you guys have always produced. 
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Cy: Well I appreciate that dude. I think so too. I was really proud of everybody, and how it came together. It definitely feels cohesive. There were a few things that we changed here and there, but mostly, it was just everyone laying down hot shit on the first try (laughs). 
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That's great. I'm sure it feels nice to release a studio track with Chris on drums, too.
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Cy: Absolutely. He’s a beast. We're definitely working on a bunch more as well. That's about all I can say, but hopefully, we'll be able to share more info on that before too long.
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Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography
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Love hearing that. So aside from the new release, I've gotta ask you how the band and you personally are handling the challenge of the pandemic. What has your experience been like thus far? How are you and the band adjusting? 
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Cy: Obviously, there are so many negative aspects. We were in the middle of our biggest tour to date, so that was a huge bummer. On the other hand, it has been nice in ways. I've loved being able to spend more time at home with my fiancee, Brittan, and our dog, Yoko. As far as the music, it's been cool to get back into the acoustic stuff. I've been doing the weekly live streams, which has been fun. 
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With the band, we've been writing more rapidly than ever in the history of the band. We've been having weekly Zoom calls. Shooting ideas back and forth like crazy. Discussing what everyone has been recording and, and where we see the songs going. That's been really cool. I definitely wish we could play live shows, because not feeling the direct response of the audience is weird. I really, really miss that. But yeah, I feel like in some ways, it has been a bit of a reset button, musically and otherwise. 
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Well, we've got the new single, and apparently several more new originals in the pipeline. What else is happening the CBDB world?
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Cy: We're doing a music video for "Back in Limbo" as well. That will be debuted on Friday, May 15th. 
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What can we expect from the video? 
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Cy: Well, like I was saying, everyone recorded their own parts from home. Some of us had Go Pro's and some had cell phones. Everyone recorded their parts at home, and then (Chris) Potocik made a video using that. We also had fans send in footage of what they've been up to during quarantine. So the video consists of us playing our own parts, as well as footage of us laying low and goofing off at home. Then there is a hodgepodge of footage from fans doing crazy stuff, babies dancing, and everything in between.
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That's amazing man. Giving your fans the opportunity to be in your new music video. That's a great example of why you guys have such a loyal following. 
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Cy: Yeah man. We had already talked about the idea of doing a quarantine video. The more I started thinking about it, I realized it was a great opportunity to get everyone involved. I feel like it made the video that much more interesting. It has more of a community feel. 
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I love that. Have you guys been able to confirm any full band performances? I remember you guys had to cancel the live stream a while back.
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Cy: Yes, we have. We're super excited to get the entire band together for a live stream on Big Friendly Productions' "Hunker in the Bunker" on Saturday, May 23rd at 8:00 PM CST. 
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I know a lot of people are going to be stoked about that. I'll certainly have it on my calendar. Always a pleasure chatting man. Best of luck navigating through the rest of this crazy time.
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Cy: Absolutely. Thanks so much, Jordan.
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Watch CBDB's official music video for "Back in Limbo" here:
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Stream CBDB's "Back in Limbo" via Spotify here:
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Ghost Light's Scotty Zwang Talks McGuire Zwang Duo & Life in Lockdown May 15, 2020 10:47

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Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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There is no doubt that we are in the midst of the most uncertain and troubling times that the world of music has ever seen. In nearly the blink of an eye, all forms of live music and entertainment were shut down amidst the COVID-19 global pandemic. The mission of Live & Listen has always been to provide a valuable platform for our favorite bands and musicians to build their audience, and there has never been a more important time do so.

Ever since catching Dopapod for the first time in 2014, I've been absolutely blown away by drummer Scotty Zwang. His energy, stage presence, and technique demands your attention and never fails to entertain from start to finish. Zwang has since moved on and toured with a number of nationally touring acts, most notably Ghost Light, which also features guitarist Tom Hamilton (Joe Russo's Almost Dead), keyboardist Holly Bowling, guitarist Raina Mullen, and bassist Dan Africano.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Scotty to learn a little more about his latest project, McGuire Zwang Duo, as well as how he's coping with life in quarantine. While this is a tremendously challenging time for professional, nationally-touring musicians, folks like Scotty are making the most of the situation and preparing to come back stronger than ever. Check out the full conversation below and make sure to follow McGuire Zwang Duo on all major social channels.

Photo by Donna Winchester: DonnasPics

Well, we're certainly in the midst of some crazy, uncertain times. This pandemic has hit the music industry as hard as any. How is everything going on your end, and what are you doing to stay productive and keep your mind in the right place?

Scotty: For sure. It's definitely a big change of pace. For so many of us, it has taken away what we do for a living, which is performing live. The music industry has evolved in a way that the most important thing you can do now is tour, sell tickets, and sell merchandise. Over the years, album sales have been down a lot. So this pandemic has definitely been tough and very different. The hardest aspect for me is that I live in an apartment. I'm trying as many different ways as possible to get creative. I've shifted a lot of focus to writing music. I will produce or write songs in Ableton, which is a digital workstation that I've grown comfortable with using over the years. It's been challenging to figure out what it is that I can do differently from touring. I've been fortunate to be able to play drums on the road so often, whether it be rehearsals or just having a place to play, that I've never really worried so much about not having a drum kit in my living space. My fiance and I had been looking for a more comfortable living situation, and the spot that we found was an apartment. 

There's just no room to set up a drum kit, on top of the noise issue and dealing with neighbors. It's been a major shift, and I've also had to shift my career back to teaching a lot more, which has been incredible. I've definitely realized how much I have missed teaching and just how rewarding it is to teach. Especially younger, or even just newer students, and just kind of kick starting their musicianship with the instrument. I've only been able to do it with a drum pad, but there is so much you can do with just a pair of sticks and a drum pad. Some of my students don't even have a drum pad. They just have their sticks, and they're playing on their bed or a pillow or whatever it might be. In the very early portion of the pandemic, some of them didn't even have sticks. We would just go over rhythm with their hands on percussion instruments or toys at home. I don't have any of that here, so I would just be doing it on a stack of paper plates and bowls (laughs).

Sounds like Trey Anastasio playing on rolls of toilet paper and wine glasses.

Scotty: Yeah, exactly. This pandemic gives you the opportunity to be a little more creative than you normally would have been. So, it's been rewarding in that sense, where I am spending a lot more time writing and teaching. I'm very grateful that I still have some form of income, as well as feeling really fulfilled, finances aside, with teaching, creating new music, or doing whatever it is that I normally wouldn't have time to do because I'm on the road. 

I've heard similar feedback from other musician friends who have had to direct all of their efforts to teaching. It's great to see those who are being able to stay busy and generate some new income. I know that hasn't been the case for everyone though.

Scotty: Yeah, for sure. Fortunately, I have my weekly lessons with students that I have built a strong student/teacher relationship with. With the technology of Zoom, Skype, or whatever it is that you're using, this is something that we can even continue when life gets back to normal when we're on the road. 

That seems to be one positive from all of this. I feel like a lot of musicians have realized that they can continue to teach virtually and generate additional income throughout the year, which is great to see. 

Scotty: Exactly. That's kind of my plan moving forward. Why not? Continue to teach. More so than just the income that's being missed by not touring, it's that much more rewarding to be able to play concerts at night and be able to teach during the day. You can do that from anywhere as long as you have a strong internet connection. That's kind of my plan moving forward from here. 

Well let's dive into the McGuire Zwang Duo. Tell me about the backstory. How did this project get started, and how have things progressed to where you are now?

Scotty: Ian (McGuire) and I have been playing music together since just before 2010. We were in a band called Sonic Spank. That's kind of where I started playing a little bit more in the jam scene and primarily the "livetronica," if you will, genre of music. Ian has always been one of my favorite keyboardists, both classically trained from a young age, as well as jazz trained at the Berklee College of Music. He's always been super fun to work with, and we have a great relationship. We're able to think very like minded, rhythmically, on a musical sense. We feed off of each other in a very special and unique way. 

When I moved to Philly in 2017, we had talked about doing a new project. There would be these opportunities where someone might need a band to open on a show they're putting together, but there isn't much of a budget. So I was thinking about how I could put something together with as few musicians as possible, in order to get the best bang for our buck. That kind of formed this band, which was originally called McZwang, and we decided to change the name to McGuire Zwang Duo. It sounds a little more profession, and it really helps showcase that it's just the two of us in this thing. Plus, it doesn't sound like a fast food chain (laughs). 

It worked pretty well for the Benevento Russo Duo.

Scotty: Exactly. We kind of took a page out of their book. I know they started similarly. There wasn't much of a budget. One of them had a residency at The Knitting Factory and had to figure out how to make that money go around and put more of it in your pocket. So, we've just been working on that. We've been working on an EP and putting out a record, because we haven't had much music out. When we changed the name, we had a little celebration show at this studio here in Philadelphia that also does smaller live shows. We had a gathering where we could capture that energy of a live show, but in a much more intimate setting. 

We just released our first set. Which is really the first half of a show with just Ian and I. During the second half, we had Danny Mayer on guitar, who plays with Eric Krasno Band. He's also in Star Kitchen with Marc Brownstein. We also had Jon Coleman, who is one of our favorite bassists. His band is called Muscle Tough. He does a lot with the Philly music scene, so we invited those guys to play the second half of the show with us. In the next few weeks, we will put out the second recording. For now, we've just released the first half, which focuses specifically on Ian and I as a duo. 

Very cool. You've obviously been involved with several major projects at this point in your career. What has this project allowed you to do differently as a musician? What about this duo excites you on a creative level?

Scotty: This kind of combines everything that I have learned over the past decade of touring full time. It takes all of those nuggets that I have learned over the years and combines them into a small, compact project. When you have several other musicians involved, whether it's a trio or even five people, as we have with Ghost Light, it can become harder and harder with all of those people connecting. It takes a lot of practice, but you can have that connection with however many people in a band. When you can have that connection between just two people, that stream of consciousness can happen so much faster. Especially with Ian, who at this point I've been playing music with longer than anyone else I've played with in the 20-25 years I've been playing my instrument. 

There is a connection there that is very different than anything I've ever done. It kind of takes everything we've learned from live improvisation and electronic dance music, and it incorporates more of the modern jazz approach that is happening now with people like Mark Guiliana and his band Beat Music, which has been a big influence on us. He also has a project with Brad Mehldau which is called Mehliana. Taking more of that jazz approach and the fusion on danceable jazz and electronic music. Maybe some of the Squarepusher influence as well in there. Trying to cater to not only what we're used to in the jam band scene, but also trying to stretch out into new avenues that we've never played in before. 

Listen to set one from McGuire Zwang Duo at Boom Room Studios here:

That's awesome. So you guys just released the first set of the live session. Have you guys released any studio material at this point?

Scotty: We've wrapped up production on our first EP. It's not quite a full album. It should be out later in the year. We're still wrapping up a few things there. We were going to try and release it pretty soon, but then all of this other stuff happened. It had to take a back seat, so we could figure out what life during a pandemic was going to look like. 

Well, I know it's hard to figure out exactly what the future is going to look like. Hopefully, you'll be able to get back to touring before too long. You obviously have Ghost Light continuing to take off. I'm sure that will continue to trend in a positive direction. How do you foresee the balance working out, and just how active do feel that the duo can be on your calendar?

Scotty: Over the last year or so, I've been having a much bigger focus on my life and work balance. When I was with Dopapod, we were playing anywhere from 120-150 shows a year. It was a lot of touring, and there wasn't much balance with my life. It was easy to feel a little burnt out. With Ghost Light, that has obviously been my main focus, but I did want to have something else to be able to focus on as well. Something to divide my time musically when Ghost Light is not on the road. We're only doing about 70 shows a year, and there is definitely some extra time in there to have other focuses creatively. I'm still balancing things out and making sure I put time aside for myself, life with my family, and obviously my fiancee. It's looking like I'll be doing Ghost Light about 1/3 of the year, and close to but not as much with McGuire Zwang Duo. 

Our aim is about 50 shows a year, maybe a little more depending on where it goes. We're going to try to do baby steps from there. Before any of this happened, Ian teaches a lot of students. He also has a few other projects. He is a full-time member of Lets Danza, which features the other members of Brothers Past, which is Tom Hamilton's former band. When he's not busy doing that, or his other project CIA (which features Clay Parnell and Allen Aucoin from The Disco Biscuits), he is teaching a lot. This is kind of a way for us to focus musically on something else. Something we can be creative with and have a little more control, with it just being the two of us. Once things open back up, we're hoping to continue with that goal of at least 50 shows a year and see what happens from there. 

Love hearing that. Is there anything else pertaining to the Duo that you'd like to mention?

Scotty: Well, we will definitely have set two, featuring Danny Mayer and Jon Coleman, coming out May 22nd. A little later in the year, you should definitely be keeping an eye out for our first studio release.

Can't wait to hear all of this material. Please keep us posted and let us know whatever we can do to help spread the good word. Always a pleasure chatting with you man. 

Scotty: Likewise. Thanks so much Jordan.


The Orange Constant Peels Into Staple Sound With New Album May 12, 2020 00:07

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Georgia-based rock outfit The Orange Constant has self-released its third studio album. Featuring mostly newer material, Peel, was recorded over the past year and a half with Grammy-nominated producer John Keane with whom the band has previously worked with.

The LP digs into a familiar blend of vintage and modern rock and covers the group’s sonic spectrum; heartfelt anthems with catchy choruses ride alongside instrumental skill with psychedelic undertones.

Band guitarist and co-founder Nickalous Benson says the album benefited from a lengthier recording process and familiarity with Keane as the hometown producer.

“We’ve never before had so much time to pick at the layers,” Benson said. “You could sit back and reevaluate the music you recorded and decide if you really like it.”

The release marks the first full-length studio effort that includes all five current members of the band. 

Formed in Statesboro, Ga. in 2012 and transplanted to Athens, The Orange Constant steadily tours the greater southeast and has performed as far north as New York and west as Colorado. The new album is available for purchase or streaming on all major platforms and the band says it hopes to press vinyl this year.

Those who are interested can head over to the band’s Facebook page for a live listening party at 8:00 PM EST tonight (May 12th). They will be listening to the album in its entirety, as well as hosting a Q&A session with their fans.

Stream The Orange Constant's new album Peel via Spotify here:


Doom Flamingo's Thomas Kenney Reveals New Project OUKUO April 27, 2020 09:47

Interview by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen

Photo by Bain Stewart Media

For the past two years, we've had the great pleasure of watching Charleston's Doom Flamingo take off like wildfire in the festival scene. The dynamic six-piece's unique blend of "synthwave" provides something truly unique and fresh, which is a rare testament these days. Led by Umphrey's McGee bassist Ryan Stasik, the band's powerful sound is a product of an incredibly diverse pool of talent.

Last week, we had a chance to sit down with guitarist Thomas Kenney to learn more about his latest solo project: OUKUO. In this conversation, we learned all about Thomas's eclectic musical background, as well as what can be expected as OUKUO takes shape and grains traction. Check out the full conversation below, and make sure to stream the new single "The Blue City" while you're here.

Let's kick this off with some general background info. How did your musical journey begin?

Thomas: I started playing guitar about 16 years ago. I was in a heavy metal band in high school. As I got to college, my interests were leaning more towards blues, soul, and jazz music. I was studying a lot of jazz, as well as Brazilian and African music. I was always fascinated with anything that was "exotic sounding," whether it was Indian, African, even Caribbean music. I started college as a Jazz major, and I wasn't the most disciplined student at the time. My studies were mainly based on western classical theory. I would love to play devil's advocate with my teachers about western vs. eastern classical theory. One of my professors got frustrated and told me I should go back to the bar.

I switched my degree to English Rhetorical Studies, and I just always kept up with music. I always played in bands. Once you can read and write music, you don't need a degree to pursue it. It's an oral language. So, I moved back to Charleston after college, and I just started playing gigs. I kind of got tapped into this super rich Charleston scene here. Charleston is one of the birth places of jazz, gospel, and r&b. I'm super fortunate to play with some of the best jazz and r&b players on the planet. There's a church every 10 feet in Charleston. Every church has a band, and they're all killin'.

So yeah, I started playing with people like Mike Quinn and Ross Bogan (Doom Flamingo) about seven years ago. They were playing in a band called Wadata at the time. They were helping get the local funk scene started. After that, I started playing whatever full time gigs I could get. I kind of fell into teaching. I've always made digital music, whether it be house, hip hop, or ambient . I'd say I've been a full-time musician for about eight years now. Weddings, teaching, touring, gigging, whatever works. 

Very cool. One of the bands you play with is Terraphonics. I've always heard great things from friends in Charleston. Tell me more about that project. 

Thomas: Absolutely. Terraphonics is a highly collaborative concept. It's a blend of hip-hop, r&b, and jazz. The band an instrumental quartet, but we tend to work with various MCs and vocalists. We've played a lot of cover shows and rap cyphers. It's been a very fun experience to be a part of. 

Well I know that we want to focus on the latest project, OUKUO. So let's do that. Did I get the pronunciation right? 

Thomas: Pretty close, but it's pronounced "oo-koo-owe." This project has been brewing in the back of my mind for years and years now. It's really a combination of a ton of different influences of mine. A lot of my friends don't know this, but I'm really into euro-house music and EDM. Most people know me as a guitar player that plays blues, soul, Motown, and jazz. But I've always loved electronic music of all kinds. I love reggae and dub, and all of that late-night, grimy stuff. This project is kind of my way of expressing that side of my brain. Ideally, while it's going to begin as a DJ set, my idea is that once Doom Flamingo gets back on the road, I'll be able to hire on some of the guys to play with me. You know, similar to how Thievery Corporation does it. 

Check out OUKUO's debut single "The Blue City" here:

 

I'm glad to hear you say that. I've always enjoyed seeing electronic artists surround themselves with a live band. It naturally makes things that much more interesting.

Thomas: Yeah, and I'm really the sum of my environment. I'm really influenced by the sound of my friends. Especially my bud Ross (Bogan) who plays keys and synth in Doom Flamingo. He is just the sonic tapestry master when it comes to using effects. He has the absolute best tone, so I'm always drawing inspiration from him. I'm playing most of the parts on the OUKUO record: keys, bass, and guitar. I have my friend Shelton Dessasure on most of the tunes, who is one of my favorite local drummers. The rest I'm either sampling his takes or building drums from scratch in Ableton. I'm trying to compose it like most EDM/Hip Hop projects, but it will inevitably translate really well as a live performance.

You mentioned this has been in the back of your mind for years now. Do you feel that the experience of these last two years with Doom Flamingo has inspired you to finally bring OUKUO to life?

Thomas: Yeah, I would say it's been an influence in a really interesting way. Terraphonics tends to have this really intimate sound that draws really well in small theaters, smoky jazz bars, and places like that. Doom Flamingo has this massive sound, and it's led me to playing on some amazing stages. That's allowed me to play through some huge sound systems. I'm a believer that acoustic force; just the shear massiveness of a sound, it's almost like it's own scale or chord. It's going to affect you emotionally. 

I'm definitely composing this music with a large stage vision. This music is not for the 30-person, 55-and-up jazz crowd. It's way more bass heavy. It's way more sampling and electronic, and you'll see that Doom Flamingo uses a lot of electronics and triggering on stage. So. yeah, I'm always responding to my environment as a writer and I'm definitely composing this seeing it in the same acoustic environment as Doom Flamingo as well. 

Specifically for this release, as you begin introducing the world to OUKUO, what's the main message you'd like for people to hear?

Thomas: I would say that while it is an eclectic range of sounds, I would classify it as dance music. I'm trying not to filter out too many ideas, but my one criteria is you have to be able to dance to 90% of the tracks. There's also a mellow midnight smoke session track or two on the record, for some contrast.

That's a fantastic rule. 

Thomas: (laughs) Yeah, of course. I love dance music because it allows me to directly share with audience. It's the easiest way to take care of each other. If I can make you dance, you're going to reciprocate the energy to me. That just make's for a really great night. I would say one thing that really differentiates this from my other projects is this sound I've been working on for years by myself. It's the sample-heavy side of things. I'm a huge hip-hop fan, and I love producers like Mad Lib And Timbaland, and all of the producers in that vein. They are masters of taking sounds from around the world and contextualizing them in an EDM context. My travels to places like India, Morocco, Spain, Cuba... they have all made a massive impact on the way I produce and play guitar, and that's going to show up.  All of those experiences are going to melt into one world that I would describe as OUKUO.

I dig it man and really look forward to listening more. Remind me when we can expect to see the full album. 

Thomas: This is the first single, and it's part of a larger record called Gorilla. It's going to be an eight or nine track record. I'll be releasing the second single in about two months and releasing the album later in the summer.

Very cool. Well it's been a pleasure chatting Thomas. Can't wait for all of us to get back out on the road. The world needs live music right now. Thanks for everything you do.

Thomas: My pleasure. Thank you, man!

Photo via Tara Gracer Photography
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Check out OUKUO's debut single "The Blue City" here:


The Talismen Release New EP 'Extra Vehicular Activity' March 30, 2020 13:47

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Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography
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We're in the midst of the most uncertain times the live music scene has ever encountered. The concept of "social distancing" eliminates any opportunity for music fans to gather and watch their favorite bands perform in venues across the country. It's critical that we find ways to support those working in the music industry during this unexpected downtime, and purchasing / streaming new releases is a perfect way to do so.
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The Talismen, a four piece jam/rock act out of Montgomery (AL), just released a brand-new, four-song EP titled 'Extra Vehicular Activity'. The new release, which was produced by Kevin Scott (Jimmy Herring & The 5 of 7), is now available on all major online music outlets. The EP features three new originals, as well as a studio cover of Ace Frehley's "New York Groove." Extra Vehicular Activity is the follow up to the band's 2019 debut album, Jar Full of Something, which has amassed just under 200,000 total streams in 12 months. EVA was engineered by Anthony Aparro, mixed by Jason Kingsland, and mastered by Zach Pyles.
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We recently caught up with The Talismen's Jack Wagstaff and producer Kevin Scott to gather a little more insight on this project. Check out the quotes below, as well as a full stream of the new EP via Spotify. 
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"Overall, our experience recording this EP was nothing short of amazing. We have progressed so much as a band over the past year. It means so much to watch ourselves take this next step. We had a blast during our time in the studio, and we were able to make some new friends along the way. Our producer, Kevin Scott, made this a super easy and fun environment to record in. It was a such a valuable experience for us as a band. It was also a nice bonus that there were farm animals right outside of the studio." - Jack Wagstaff (keys/vocals) 
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"From my years of producing, working with such a great group of talented young musicians was an amazing experience. We're all very proud of this recording, and I'm very excited to see The Talismen's progression arise in today's music scene." Kevin Scott (Jimmy Herring & The 5 of 7) 
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Those wishing to show their support for The Talismen can purchase a digital copy of Extra Vehicular Activity by clicking here. Make sure to follow the band on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date on all of the latest happenings. You can also purchase an official "Electric Shoes" t-shirt today by visiting the band's official website.
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Album Artwork by Kyndall Cooper: Kaleidoscope Creative
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Stream The Talismen's 'Extra Vehicular Activity' via Spotify here:
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Cycles Releases New Studio EP 'Summer Dress' March 27, 2020 14:53

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The first studio work in three years from Cycles, Denver’s psychedelic-rock-fusion pioneers, is out now. Recorded at Scanhope Sound in Denver, CO and produced by Josh Fairman of SunSquabi is out now on all streaming platforms via Color Red.  

“Summer Dress was the most natural thing ever for us. We couldn’t wait to lay these songs down and Josh Fairman is the man! He made it so easy for us to record this stuff live and we made it easy for him by doing barely any overdubs or retakes. The EP takes you on a journey that reminds you to lay off your phone, pull out that summer dress, head up to the hills and throw your time into the sky because the time spent worrying about what will happen will keep you from recognizing how glorious that sunrise can actually be.” –Patrick Harvey (Guitar / Vocals)

After an incredibly busy year that found the band headlining shows from coast to coast as well as supporting acts like Umphrey’s McGee, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, SunSquabi and more, Cycles are adapting to a new way of life off the road in the developing pandemic of Coronavirus. With their entire Spring Tour postponed due to safety concerns, the band is finding new ways to bring their music to their fans while diligently planning a show-heavy Fall Tour. Recently featured on the 11E1even Group’s “Live From Out There” online digital subscription music festival the guys are busy planning more in-home experiences right now. Having just joined Nugs.net, the popular jamband-oriented streaming service, the band will now be able to bring their live-recorded shows to an eager crowd ready to listen.

In the face of all the uncertainty facing the live music industry and bands that depend on it, the Summer touring schedule for all bands has slimmed down to just a handful of festivals that have yet to reschedule. Stay tuned on the Cycles social media channels for updates and new content.

Stream Cycles new EP 'Summer Dress' via Spotify here:

Watch Cycles perform "Music's For Free" via Live From Out There: